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Full text of "Aristophanes' apology including a transcript from Euripides being the last adventure of Balaustion"

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oi'K t(T0w Kiv(6i>n ■ nnoTau Si di'j/s Ti, KaAei /xf. 

I cai no cairimi ; when ynii sacvilici- 

Smnc cleanly cicaUue call nu' ("V a >licc ! 



Wind, wave, and bark, bear Euthukles and me, 
Balaustion, from — not sorrow but despair. 
Not memory but the present and its pang ! 
Athenai, live thou hearted in my heart : 
Never, while I live, may I see thee more. 
Never again may these repugnant orbs 
Ache themselves blind before the hideous pomp. 
The ghastly mirth which mocked thine overthrow 
— Death's entry, Haides' outrage ! 



Doomed to die, — 
Fire should have flung a passion of embrace 
About thee till, resplendently marmed, 
(Temple by temple folded to his breast. 
All thy white wonder fainting out in ash) 
Some vaporous sigh of soul had lightly 'scaped, 
And so the Immortals bade Athenai back ! 
Or earth might sunder and absorb thee, save, 
Buried below Olumpos and its gods, 
Akropolis to dominate her realm 
For Kore, and console the ghosts ; or, sea, 
What if thy watery plural vastitude. 
Rolling unanimous advance, had rushed. 
Might upon might, a moment, — stood, one stare, 
Sea-face to city-face, thy glaucous wave 
Glassing that marbled last magnificence, — - 
Till fate's pale tremulous foam-flower tipped the grey, 
And when wave broke and overswarmed and, sucked 



To bounds back, nuiltitudinously ceased, 
And land again breathed unconfused with sea, 
Attlke was, Athenai was not now ! 

Such end I could have borne, for I had shared. 
But this which, glanced at, aches within my orbs 
To blinding, — bear me thence, bark, wind and wave 
Me, Euthukles, and, hearted in each heart, 
Athenai, undisgraced as Pallas' self, 
Bear to my birth-place, Helios' island-bride, 
Zeus' darling : thither speed us, homeward-bound, 
Wafted already twelve hours' sail away 
From horror, and a sunset nearer Rhodes ! 

Why should despair be ? Since, distinct above 
Man's wickedness and folly, flies the wind 
And floats the cloud, free transport for our soul 
Out of its fleshly durance dim and low, — 

B 2 


Since disembodied soul anticipates 

(Thought-borne as now, in rapturous unrestraint) 

Above all crowding, crystal silentness, 

Above all noise, a silver solitude : — 

Surely, where thought so bears soul, soul in time 

May permanently bide, " assert the wise," 

There live in peace, there work in hope once more, 

O nothing doubt, Philemon ! Greed and strife, 

Hatred and cark and care, what place have they 

In yon blue liberality of heaven ? 

How the sea helps ! How rose-smit earth will rise 

Breast-high thence, some bright morning, and be Rhodes: 

Heaven, earth and sea, my warrant — in their name. 

Believe— o'er falsehood, truth is surely sphered, 

O'er ugliness beams beauty, o'er this world 

Extends that realm where, " as the wise assert," 

Philemon, thou shalt see Euripides 

Clearer than mortal sense perceived the man ! 


A sunset nearer Rhodes, by twelve hours' sweep 

Of surge secured from horror ? Rather say, 

Quieted out of weakness into strength. 

1 dare invite, survey the scene my sense 

Staggered to apprehend : for, disenvolved 

From the mere outside anguish and contempt. 

Slowly a justice centred in a doom 

Reveals itself. Ay, pride succumbed to pride, 

Oppression met the oppressor and its match. 

Athenai's vaunt braved Spartd's violence 

Till, in tlie shock, prone fell Peiraios, low 

Rampart and bulwark lay, as, — timing stroke 

Of hammer, axe, beam hoist and poised and swung, — 

The very flute-girls blew their laughing best. 

In dance about the conqueror while he bade 

Music and merriment help enginery 

Batter down, break to pieces all their trust, 

Those citizens once, slaves now. See what walls 


Play substitute for the long double range 
Themistoklean, heralding a guest 
From harbour on to citadel ! Each side 
The senseless walls demolished stone by stone, 
See, — outer wall as stonelike, — heads and hearts, — 
Athenai's terror-stricken populace ! 
Prattlers, tongue-tied in crouching abjectness, — 
Braggarts, who wring hands wont to flourish swords- 
Sophist and rhetorician, demagogue, 
(Argument dumb, authority a jest) 
Dikast and heliast, pleader, litigant. 
Quack-priest, sham-prophecy-retailer, scout 
O' the customs, sycophant, whate'er the style, 
Altar-scrap-snatcher, pimp and parasite, — 
Rivalities at truce now each with each. 
Stupefied mud-banks, — that's the use they serve ! 
While the one order which performs exact 
To promise, functions faithful last as first. 


^Vhat is it but the city's lyric troop, 
Chantress and psaltress, flute-girl, dancing-girl ? 
Athenai's harlotry takes laughing care 
Their patron miss no i)ipings, late she loved, 
But deathward tread at least the kordax-step. 

Die then, who pulled such glory on your heads ! 
There let it grind to powder ! Perikles ! 
The living are the dead now : death be life ! 
Wh)' should the sunset yonder waste its wealth ? 
Prove thee Olympian ! If my heart supply 
Inviolate the structure, — true to type. 
Build me some spirit-place no flesh shall find. 
As Pheidias may inspire thee ; slab on slab. 
Renew Athenai, quarry out the cloud, 
Convert to gold yon west extravagance ! 
'Neath Propulaia, from Akropolis 
By vapoury grade and grade, gold all the way. 


Step to thy snow-Pnux, mount thy Bema-cloud, 

Thunder and hghten thence a Hellas through 

That shall be better and more beautiful 

And too august for Sparte's foot to spurn ! 

Chasmed in the crag, again our Theatre 

Predominates, one purple : Staghunt-month, 

Brings it not Dionusia ? Hail, the Three ! 

Aischulos, Sophokles, Euripides 

Compete, gain prize or lose prize, godlike still. 

Nay, lest they lack the old god-exercise — ■ 

Their noble want the unworthy, — as of old, 

(How otherwise should patience crown their might ?) 

What if each find his ape promoted man, 

His censor raised for antic service still ? 

Some new Hermippos to pelt Perikles, 

Kratinos to swear Pheidias robbed a shrine, 

Eruxis — I suspect, Euripides, 

No brow will ache because with mop and mow 


He gibes my poet ? There's a dog-faced dwarf 
That gets to godship somehow, yet retauis 
His apehood in the Egyptian hierarchy, 
More decent yet indecorous enough : 
Why should not dog-ape, graced in due degree, 
(kow Momos as thou Zeus ? Or didst thou sigh 
Rightly with thy iMakaria? " After life, 
Better no sentiency than turbulence ; 
Death cures the low contention." Be it so ! 
Yet progress means contention, to my mind. 

Euthukles, who, except a love that speaks. 
Art silent by my side while words of mine 
Provoke that foe from which escape were vain 
Henceforward, wake Athenai's fate and fall, — 
Do I amiss, who wanting strength use craft, 
Advance upon the foe I cannot tl_\', 
Nor feign a snake is dormant though it gnaw ? 


That flite and fall, once bedded in our brain, 
Roots itself past upwrenching ; but coaxed forth, 
Encouraged out to practise fork and fang, — 
Possibly, satiate with prompt sustenance. 
It may pine off far likelier than left swell 
In jieace by our pretension to ignore, 
Or pricked to threefold fury, should our stamp 
Bruise and not brain the pest. 

A middle course ! 
What hinders that we treat this tragic theme 
As the Three taught when either woke some woe, 
— How Klutaimnestra hated, what the pride 
Of lokaste, why Medeia clove 
Nature asunder. Small rebuked by large, 
We felt our puny hates refine to air. 
Our prides as poor prevent the humbling hand. 
Our petty passion purify its tide. 


So, Euthukles, permit the tragedy 

'J'o re-enact itself, this voyage through, 

Till sunsets end and sunrise brighten Rhodes ! 

Majestic on the stage of memor}% 

Peplosed and kothorned, let Athenai fall 

Once more, nay, oft again till life conclude, 

Lent for the lesson : Choros, I and thou 1 

What else in life seems piteous anymore 

After such pity, or proves terrible 

Beside such terror ? 

Still — since Phnmichos 
Oftended, by too premature a touch 
Of that Milesian smart-place freshly frayed — 
(Ah, my poor people, whose prompt remedy 
Was — fine the poet, not reform thyself!) 
Beware precipitate approach ! Rehearse 
Rather the prologue, well a year away, 


llian the main misery, a sunset old. 
What else but fitting prologue to the piece ** 

Style an adventure, stranger than my first 
By so much as the issue it enwombed 
Lurked big beyond Balaustion's littleness ? 
Second supreme adventure ! O that Spring, 
That eve I told the earlier to my ft-iends ! 
Where are the four now, with each red-ripe 

Crumpled so close, no quickest breath it fetched 
Could disengage the lip-flower furled to bud 
Yox fear Admetos, — shivering head and foot, 
As with sick soul and blind averted face 
He trusted hand forth to obey his friend, — 
Should find no wife in her cold hand's response. 
Nor see the disenshrouded statue start 
Alkestis, live the life and love the love ! 
I wonder, does the streamlet ripj)le still. 


Out-smoothing galingal and watermint 

Its mat-floor ? while at brim, 'twixt sedge and sedge, 

What bubbhngs past Baccheion, broadened much, 

I'ricked by tlie reed and fretted l)y the fly, 

Oared by the boatman-spider's pair of arms! 

Lenaia was a gladsome month ago — 

Euripides had taught " Andromede : " 

Next mouth, would teach " Kresphontes " — which same 

Someone from Phokis, who companioned me 
Since all that happened on those temple-steps. 
Would marry me antl turn Athenian too. 
Now ! if next year the masters let the slaves 
Do Bacchic service and restore mankind 
Tliat trilogy whereof, 'tis noised, one play 
Presents the Bacchai, — no Euripides 
Will teach the choros, nor shall we be tinged 
By any such grand sunset of his soul, 


Exiles from dead Athenai, — not the new 
That's in the cloud there with the star above ! 

Speak to the infinite intelligence, 

Sing to the everlasting sympathy ! 

Winds belly sail, and drench of dancing brine 

Buffet our boat-side, so the prore bound free ! 

Condense our voyage into one great day 

Made up of sunset-closes : eve by eve, 

Resume that memorable night-discourse 

'\Vhen, — like some meteor-brilliance, fire and filth, 

Or say, his own Amphitheos, deity 

And dung, who, bomid on the gods' embassage, 

Got men's acknowledgment in kick and cuff — 

We made acquaintance with a visitor 

Ominous, apparitional, who went 

Strange as he came, but shall not pass away. 

Let us attempt that memorable talk, 


Clothe the adventure's every incident 
With due expression : may not looks be told, 
Gesture made speak, and speech so amplified 
That words find blood-warmth which, cold-writ, they 

Recall the night we heard the news from Thrace, 
One year ago, Athenai still herself. 

\V' e two were sitting silent in the house, 
Yet cheerless hardly. Euthukles, forgive ■! 
I somehow speak to unseen auditors. 
Not jw/, but — Euthukles had entered, grave. 
Grand, may I say, as who brings laurel-branch 
And message from the tripod : such it proved. 

He first removed the garland from his brow. 
Then took my hand and looked into my face. 


" Speak good words ! " much misgiving faultered I. 

" Good words, the best, Balaustion ! He is crowned, 
Gone with his Attic ivy home to feast, 
Since Aischulos required comjjanionship. 
Pour a hbation for Euripides ! " 

When we had sat the heavier silence out — 

" Dead and triumphant still !" began reply 

To my eye's question. " As he willed, he worked : 

And, as he worked, he wanted not, be sure, 

Triumph his whole life through, submitting work 

To work's right judges, never to the wrong, 

To competency, not inejjtitude. 

^Vhen he had run life's proper race and worked 

Quite to the stade's end, there remained to try 

Its turning, should strength dare the double course. 

Half the diaulos reached, the hundred plays 


Accomplished, force in its rebound sufficed 
To lift along the athlete and ensure 
A second wreath, proposed by fools for first, 
The statist's olive as the poet's bay. 
Wiselier, he suftered not confuse his sight, 
Retard his pace a twofold aim, at once 
Poet and statist ; though the multitude 
Girded him ever ' All thine aim thine art ? 
The idle poet only ? No regard 
For civic duty, public service, here ? 
"We drop our ballot-bean for Sophokles ! 
Not only could he write ' Antigone,' 
But — since, we argued, whoso penned that piece 
Might just as well conduct a squadron, — straight 
Good-naturedly he took on him command. 
Got laughed at and went back to making plays. 
Having allowed us our experiment 
Respecting the fit use of faculty.' 


No whit the more did athlete slacken pace. 
Soon the jeers grew : ' Cold hater of his kind, 
A sea-cave suits him, not the vulgar hearth I 
What need of tongue-talk, with a bookish store 
AVould stock ten cities ? ' Shadow of an ass ! 
No whit the worse did athlete touch the mark 
And, at the turning-point, consign his scorn 
O' the scorners to that final trilogy 
' Hupsipule,' ' Phoinissai,' and the Match 
Of Life Contemplative with Active Life, 
Zethos against Amphion. Ended so ? 
Nowise ! — began again ; for heroes rest 
Dropping shield's oval o'er the entire man ; 
And he who thus took Contemplation's prize, 
Turned stade-point but to face Activity. 
Out of all shadowy hands extending help 
For life's decline pledged to youth's enterprise, 
Whatever renovation flatter age, — 


Society with pastime, solitude 

AVitli peace, — he chose the hand that gave the heart, 

Bade Macedonian Archelaos take 

The leavings of Athenai, ash once flame. 

For fifty politicians' frosty make, 

One poet's ash found ample and to spare, 

He propped the state and filled the treasury : 

Counseled the king as might a meaner soul. 

Furnished the friend with what shall stand in stead 

Of crown and scei:)tre, star his name about 

When these are dust ; for him, Euripides 

Last the old hand on the old phorminx flung. 

Clashed thence 'Alkaion,' maddened 'Pentheus' up; 

Then music sighed itself away, one moan 

Iphigeneia made by Aulis' strand ; 

With her and music died Euripides. 

" The poet-friend who followed him to Thrace, 
c 2 


Agathon, wrote thus much : the merchant- ship 
Moreover brought a message from the king 
To young Euripides, who went on board 
I'his morning at Mounuchia : all is true." 

I said " Thank Zeus for the great news and good i 

" Nay, the report is nmning in brief fire 

Through the town's stubbly furrow," he resumed : 

— " Entertains brightly what their favourite styles 

' The City of Gapers ' for a week perhaps, 

Supplants three luminous tales, but yesterday 

Pronounced sufficient lamps to last the month : 

How Glauketes, outbidding Morsimos, 

Paid market-price for one Kopaic eel 

A thousand drachmai, and then cooked his prize 

Not proper conger-fashion but in oil 

And nettles, as man fries the foam-fish-kind ; 


How all the captains of the triremes, late 
Victors at Arginousai, on return 
Will, for reward, be straightway put to death ; 
How Mikon wagered a Thessalian mime 
Trained him by Lais, looked on as complete, 
Against Leogoras' blood-mare koi)pa-marked, 
Valued six talents, — swore, accomplished so, 
The girl could swallow at a draught, nor breathe, 
A choinix of unmixed Mendesian wine ; 
And having lost the match will — dine on herbs ! 
Three stories late a-flame, at once extinct. 
Out-blazed by just ' Euripides is dead ' ! 

" I met the concourse from the Theatre, 
The audience flocking homeward : victory 
Again awarded Aristophanes 
Precisely for his old play chopped and changed 
' The Female Celebrators of the Feast ' — 


That Thesmophoria : tried a second time, 
' Never such full success ! ' — assured the folk, 
Who yet stopped praising to have word of mouth 
With ' Euthukles, the bard's own intimate, 
Balaustion's husband, the right man to ask.' 

' Dead, yes, but how dead, may acquaintance know ? 
You were the couple constant at his cave : 
Tell us now, is it true that women, moved 
By reason of his liking Krateros . . .' 

" I answered ' He was loved by Sokrates.' 

' Nay,' said another, ' envy did the work ! ' 
For, emulating poets of the place. 
One Arridaios, one Krateues, both 
Established in the royal favor, these . . . 

" Protagoras instructed him," said I. 


' /%//,' whistled Comic Platoii, ' hear the fact ! 

'Twas well said of your friend by Sophokles 

" He hate our women ? In his verse, belike. 

But when it comes to prose-work, — ha, ha, ha ! " 

New climes don't change old manners : so, it chanced, 

Pursuing an intrigue one moonless night 

^Vith Arcthousian Nikodikos' wife, 

(Come now, his years were simply seventy-five) 

Crossing the palace-court, what haps he on 

But Archelaos' pack of hungry hounds ? 

Who tore him piecemeal ere his cry brought helj).' 

'■ I asked : Did not you write ' The Festivals?' 
You best know what dog tore him when alive. 
You others, who now make a ring to hear, 
Have not you just enjoyed a second treat, 
Proclaimed that ne'er was play more worthy prize 
Than this, myself assisted at, last year, 


And gave its worth to, — spitting on the same ? 
Appraise no poetry, — price cuttlefish, 
Or that seaweed-alphestes, scorpion-sort, 
Much famed for mixing mud with fantasy 
Of midnights ! I interpret no foul dreams." 

If so said Euthukles, so could not I, 

Balaustion, say. After ' Lusistrate ' 

No more for me of " people's privilege," 

No witnessing " the grand old Comedy 

Coeval with our freedom, which, curtailed, 

Were freedom's deathblow : relic of the past, 

When Virtue laughingly told truth to Vice, 

Uncensured, since the stern mouth, stuffed with flowers, 

Through poetry breathed satire, perfumed blast 

Which sense snuffed up while searched unto the bone ! '' 

I was a stranger : " For first joy," urged friends, 

" Go hear our Comedy, some patriot piece 


That plies the selfish advocates of war 

With argument so iinevadible 

That crash fall Kleons whom the finer i)lay 

Of reason, tickling, deeper wounds no whit 

Than would a spear-thrust from a savory-stalk ! 

No : you hear knave and fool told crime and fault, 

And see each scourged his quantity of stripes. 

' Rough dealing, awkward language,' whine our fops : 

The world's too squeamish now to bear plain words 

Concerning deeds it acts with gust enough : 

But, thanks to wine-lees and democracy. 

We've still our stage where truth calls spade a spade ! 

Ashamed ? Phuromachos' decree provides 

The sex may sit discreetly, witness all. 

Sorted, the good with good, the gay with gay, 

Themselves unseen, no need to force a blush. 

A Rhodian wife and ignorant so long ? 

Go hear next play 1 " 


I heard ' Lusistrate.' 
Waves, said to wash poUution from the world, 
Take that plague-memory, cure that pustule caught 
As, past escape, I sat and saw the piece 
By one appalled at Phaidra's fate, — the chaste, 
Whom, because chaste, the wicked goddess chained 
To that same serpent of unchastity 
She loathed most, and who, coiled so, died dis- 
Rather than make submission, loose one limb 
Love-wards, at lambency of honeyed tongue, 
Or torture of the scales which scraped her snow 
— I say, the piece by him who charged this piece 
(Because Euripides shrank not to teach. 
If gods be strong and wicked, man, though weak, 
May prove their match by willing to be good) 
With infamies the Scythian's whip should cure — 
' Such outrage done the public — Phaidra named ! 


Such purpose to corrupt ingenuous youth, 
Such insult cast on female character ! ' — 
^^'hy, when I saw that bestiality — 
So beyond all brute-beast imagining, 
That when, to point the moral at the close, 
Poor Salabaccho, just to show how fair 
Was * Reconciliation,' stripped her charms. 
That exhibition simply bade us breathe, 
Seemed something healthy and commendable 
After obscenity grotesqucd so much 
It slunk away revolted at itself. 
Henceforth I had my answer when our sage 
Pattern-proposing seniors pleaded grave 
" You fail to fathom here the deep design ! 
All's acted in the interest of tmth, 
Religion, and those manners old and dear 
"V\niich made our city great when citizens 
Like Aristeides and Miltiades 


Wore each a golden tettix in his hair." 
What do they wear now under — Kleophon ? 

Well, for such reasons, — I am out of breath, 
But loathsomeness we needs must hurry past, — 
I did not go to see, nor then nor now, 
The " Thesmophoriazousai." But, since males 
Choose to brave first, blame afterward, nor 

Without fair taste of what they stigmatize, 
Euthukles had not missed the first display. 
Original portrait of Euripides 
By " Virtue laughingly reproving Vice " : 
" Virtue," — the author, Aristophanes, 
Who mixed an image out of his own depths. 
Ticketed as I tell you. Oh, this time 
No more pretension to recondite worth ! 
No joke in aid of Peace, no demagogue 


Pun-pelleted from Pnux, no kordax-dance 

Overt helped covertly the Ancient Faith ! 

All now was muck, home-i)roduce, honestman 

The author's soul secreted to a play 

^Vhich gained the prize that day we heard the death. 

I thought " How thoroughly death alters things ! 
Where is the wrong now, done our dead and great ? 
How natural seems grandeur in relief, 
Cliff-base with frothy spites against its calm ! " 

Euthukles interposed— he read my thought — 

" O'er them, too, in a moment came the change. 
The crowd 's enthusiastic, to a man : 
Since, rake as such may please the ordure heap 
Because of certain sparkles presumed ore. 
At first flash of true lightning overhead, 


They look up, nor resume their search too soon. 

The insect-scattering sign is evident, 

And nowhere winks a fire-fly rival now, 

Nor bustles any beetle of the brood 

With trundled dung-ball meant to menace heaven. 

Contrariwise, the cry is ' Honor him ! ' 

' A statue in the theatre ! ' wants one ; 

Another ' Bring the poet's body back, 

Bury him in Peiraios : o'er his tomb 

Let Alkamenes carve the music-witch. 

The songstress-seiren, meed of melody : 

Thoukudides invent his epitaph ! ' 

To-night the whole town pays its tribute thus." 

Our tribute should not be the same, my friend ! 
Statue ? Within our heart he stood, he stands ! 
As for the vest outgrown now by the form, 
Low flesh that clothed high soul, — a vesture's fate 


AVliy, let it fade, mix witli the elements 

There where it, flilling, freed Euripides ! 

But for the soul that's tutelary now 

Till time end, o'er the world to teach and bless — 

How better hail its freedom than by first 

Singing, we two, its own song back again, 

Up to that face from whicli flowed beauty — f;ice 

Now abler to see triumph and take love 

Than when it glorified Athenai once ? 

The sweet and strange Alkestis, which saved me, 
Secured me — you, ends nowise, to my mind, 
In pardon of Admetos. Hearts are fain 
To follow cheerful weary Herakles 
Striding away from the huge gratitude. 
Club shouldered, lion-fleece round loin and flank, 
Bound on the next new labour " height o'er height 
Ever surmounting, — destiny's decree ! " 


Thither He helps us : that's the story's end ; 
He smihng said so, when I told him mine — 
My great adventure, how Alkestis helped. 
Afterward, when the time for parting fell, 
He gave me, with two other precious gifts. 
This third and best, consummating the grace, 
" Herakles," Avrit by his own hand, each line. 

" If it have worth, reward is still to seek. 
Somebody, I forget who, gained the prize 
And proved arch-poet : time must show ! " he smiled 
"Take this, and, when the noise tires out, judge me — 
Some day, not slow to dawn, when somebody — 
Who? I forget — proves nobody at all ! " 

Is not that day come ? What if you and I 
Re-sing the song, inaugurate the fame ? 
We have not waited to acquaint ourselves 


Witli song and subject ; we can prologuize 

How, at Eurustheus' bidding, — hate strained hard, — 

Herakles had departed, one time more, 

On his last labour, worst of all the twelve ; 

Descended into Haides, thence to drag 

The triple-headed hound, which sun should see 

Spite of the god whose darkness whelped the Fear. 

Down went the hero, "back — how should he 

come ? " 
So laughed King Lukos, an old eneiny, 
Who in that prolonged absence, i)lain defeat 
Of the land's loved one, — for he saved the land 
And for that serv^ice wedded Megara 
Daughter of Thebai, realm her child should mle, — 
Saw his occasion, seized the tempting prey. 
The Heracleian House, defenceless left. 
Father and wife and child, to trample out 
Trace of its hearth-fire : since extreme old age 



Wakes pity, woman's wrong wins championship, 
And the child grows the man and takes revenge. 
Hence see we that, from out their palace-home 
Hunted, for last resource they cluster now 
Couched on the cold ground, hapless supplicants 
About their court-yard altar, — Household Zeus, — 
Delaying death so, till deliverance come — 
When did it ever ? — from the deep and dark. 
And thus breaks silence old Amphitruon"s voice. . . 
Say I not true thus far, my Euthukles ? 

Suddenly, torch-light ! knocking at the door, 
Loud, quick, " Admittance for the revel's lord ! " 
Some unintelligible Komos-cry — 
Raiu-fiesh red, no cap upon his head, 
DioJiusos, Bacchos, Fhaks, lacxhos, 
In let him reel with the kid-skin at his heel, 
Where it buries in the spread of the bushy myrtle-bed I 


(Our Rhodian Jackdaw-song was sense to that !) 
Tlien laughter, outbursts ruder and more rude, 
Through which, with silver point, a fluting pierced, 
And ever " Open, open, Bacchos bids ! " 

But at last — one authoritative word ! 
One name of an immense significance : 
For Euthukles rose up, threw wide the door. 

There trooped the Choros of the Comedy 
Crowned and triumphant ; first, those flushed Fifteen, 
!Men that wore women's garb, grotesque disguise. 
Then marched the Three, — who played Mnesilochos, 
Who, Toxotes, and who, robed right, masked rare, 
Monkeyed our Great and Dead to heart's content 
That morning in Athenai. Masks were down 
And robes doffed now; the sole disguise was 


Mixing with these — I know not what gay crowd, 
Girl-dancers, flute-boys, and pre-eminent 
Among them, — doubtless draped with such reserve 
As stopped fear of the fifty-drachma fine 
(Beside one's name on pubUc fig-tree nailed) 
Which women pay who in the streets walk bare, — 
Behold Elaphion of the Persic dance ! 
Who lately had frisked fawn-foot, and the rest, 
— All for the Patriot Cause, the Antique Faith, 
The Conservation of True Poesy — 
Could I but penetrate the deep design ! 
Elaphion, more Peiraios-known as " Phaps," 
Tripped at the head of the whole bancj^uet-band 
Who came in front now, as the first fell back ; 
And foremost — the authoritative voice. 
The revel-leader, he who gained the prize, 
And got the glorj' of the Archon's feast — 
There stood in person Aristophanes. 


And no ignoble presence ! On the bulge 

(Jf the clear baldness, — all his head one brow, — 

True, the veins swelled, blue network, and there surged 

\ red from cheek to temple, — then retired 

As if the dark-leaved chaplet damped a flame, — 

\Vas never nursed by temperance or health. 

But huge the eyeballs rolled black native fire, 

Imperiously triumphant : nostrils wide 

Waited their incense ; while the pursed mouth's pout 

Aggressive, while the beak supreme above, 

While the head, face, nay, pillared throat thrown back, 

Deard whitening under like a vinous foam. 

These made a glor}^, of such insolence — 

I thought, — such domineering deity 

Hephaistos might have carved to cut the brine 

I'or his gay brother's prow, imbrue that path 

Which, purpling, recognized the conqueror. 

Impudent and majestic : drunk, perhaps. 


But tliat's religion ; sense too plainly snuffed : 
Still, sensuality was grown a rite. 

What I had disbelieved most, proved most true. 

There was a mind here, mind a- wantoning 

At ease of undisputed mastery 

Over the body's brood, those appetites. 

Oh, but he grasped them grandly, as the god 

His either struggling handful, — hurtless snakes 

Held deep down, strained hard oif from side and side 1 

jMastery his, theirs simply servitude, 

So well could firm fist help intrepid eye. 

Fawning and fulsome, had they licked and hissed ? 

At mandate of one muscle, order reigned. 

They had been wreathing much familiar now 

About him on his entry ; but a squeeze 

Choaked down the pests to place : their lord stood free. 

Forward he stepped, I rose and fronted him. 


" Hail, house, the friendly to Euripides ! " 

(So he began) " Hail, each inhabitant ! 

You, lady ? AMiat, the Rhodian ? Form and face. 

Victory's self upsoaring to receive 

The poet? Right they named you . . . some rich 

Vowel-buds thorned about with consonants, 
Fragrant, felicitous, rose-glow enriched 
IJy the Isle's unguent : some diminished end 
In ion, Kallistion? delicater still, 
Kubelion or Melittion,— or, suppose, 
(Less vulgar love than bee or violet) 
Phibalion, for the mouth split red-fig-wise, 
Korakinidion, for the coal-black hair, 
Nettarion, Phabion, for the darlingness? 
But no, it was some fruit-flower, Rhoidion . . . ha. 
We near the balsam-bloom — Balaustion ! Thanks, 
Rhodes ! Folk have called me Rhodian, do you know ? 


Not fools so far ! Because, if Helios wived, 
As Pindaros sings somewhere prettily, 
Here blooms his offspring, earth-flesh with sun-fire, 
Rhodes' blood and Helios' gold. My phorminx, boy ! 
^Vhy does the boy hang back and baulk an ode 
Tiptoe at spread of wing ? But like enough, 
Sunshine frays torchlight. Witness whom you scare, 
Superb Balaustion ! Look outside the house ! 
Pho, you have quenched my Komos by first frown, 
Struck dead all joyance : not a fluting puffs 
From idle cheekband ! Ah, my Choros too ? 
You've eaten cuckoo apple ? Dumb, you dogs ? 
So much good Thasian wasted on your throats 
And out of them not one TJirdtajielo ? 
Neblardai ! Because this earth-and-sun 
Product looks wormwood and all bitter herbs ? 
Well, do I blench, though me she hates the most 
Of mortals ? By the cabbage, off they slink ! 


You, too, my Chrusomelolonthion-Phaps, 

Girl-goldling-beetle-beauty ? You, abashed, 

"Who late, supremely unabashable, 

Propped up my play at that important point 

When Artamouxia tricks the Toxotes ? 

Ha, ha, — thank Hermes for the lucky throw, — 

We came last comedy of the whole seven, 

So went all fresh to judgment well-disposed 

For who should fatly feast them, eye and ear, 

W^e two between us ! What, you fail your friend ? 

Away then, free me of your cowardice ! 

Go, get you the goat's breakfast ! Fare afield, 

Ye circumcised of Egypt, pigs to sow. 

Back to the Priest's or forward to the crows, 

So you but rid me of such company ! 

Once left alone, I can protect myself 

From statuesque Balaustion pedestalled 

On much disapprobation and mistake ! 


She dares not beat the sacred brow, beside ! 
Bacchos' equipment, ivy safeguards well 
As Phoibos' bay. 

" They take me at my word ! 
One comfort is, I shall not want them long. 
The Archon's cry creaks, creaks, ' Curtail expense ! ' 
The war wants money, year the twenty-sixth ! 
Cut down our Choros number, clip costume, 
Save birds' wings, beetles' armour, spend the cash 
In three-crest scull-caps, three days' salt-fish-slice, 
Three-banked-ships for these sham-ambassadors, 
And what not : any cost but Comedy's ! 
' No Choros ' — soon will follow; what care I ? 
Archinos and Agurrhios, scrape your flint. 
Flay your dead dog, and curry favor so ! 
Choros in rags, with loss of leather next. 
We lose the boys' vote, lose the song and dance, 


Lose my Elaphion ! Still, the actor stays. 

Save but my acting, and the baldhead bard 

Kudathenaian and Pandionid, 

Son of Philippos, Aristophanes 

Surmounts his rivals now as heretofore, 

Though stinted to mere sober prosy verse — 

' Manners and men,' so squeamish gets the world ! 

No more ' Step forward, strip for anapaests ! ' 

Xo calling naughty people by their names, 

No tickling audience into gratitude 

With chickpease, barleygroats and nuts and plums, 

No setting Salabaccho ..." 

As I turned — 

" True, lady, I am tolerably drunk : 
The proper inspiration ! Otherwise, — 
Phrunichos, Choirilos ! — had Aischulos 


So foiled you at the goat-song ? Drink's a god. 
How else did that old doating driveler 
Kratinos foil me, match my masterpiece 
The 'Clouds?' I swallowed cloud-distilment— dew 
Undimmed by any grape-blush, knit my brow 
And gnawed my style and laughed my learnedest ; 
While he worked at his ' Willow-wicker-flask,' 
Swigging at that same flask by which he swore. 
Tin, sing and empty, sing and fill again. 
Somehow result was — what it should not be 
Next time, I promised him and kept my word ! 
Hence, brimful now of Thasian . . . I'll be bound, 
Alendesian, merely : trium])h-night, you know, 
The High Priest entertains the conqueror. 
And, since war worsens all things, stingily 
The rascal starves whom he is bound to stuff, 
Choros and actors and their lord and king 
The poet ; supper, still he needs must spread — 


And this time all was conscientious fare : 

He knew his man, his match, his master — made 

Amends, spared neither fish, flesh, fowl nor wine : 

So merriment increased, I promise you, 

Till — something happened." 

Here he strangely paused 

" After that,— w^ell, it either was the cup 
To the Good Genius, our concluding pledge, 
That wrought me mischief, decently unmixed, — 
Or, what if, when that happened, need arose 
Of new libation ? Did you only know 
What happened ! Little wonder I am drunk." 

Euthukles, o'er the boat-side, quick, what change, 
Watch, in the water ! But a second since, 
It laughed a ripply spread of sun and sea, 


Ray fused with wave, to never disunite. 

Now, sudden all the surface, hard and black, 

Lies a quenched light, dead motion : what the cause ? 

Look up and lo, the menace of a cloud 

Has solemnized the sparkling, spoiled the sport ! 

Just so, some overshadow, some new care 

Stopped all the mirth and mocking on his face 

And left there only such a dark surmise 

— No wonder if the revel disappeared, 

So did his face shed silence every side ! 

I recognized a new man fronting me. 

" So ! " he smiled, piercing to my thought at once, 
" You see myself ? Balaustion's fixed regard 
Can strip the proper Aristophanes 
Of what our sophists, in their jargon, style 
His accidents ? My soul sped forth but now 
To meet your hostile survey, — soul unseen, 


Yet veritably cinct for soul-defence 

With satyr sportive quips, cranks, boss and spike, 

Just as my visible body paced the street, 

Environed by a boon companionship 

Your apparition also puts to flight. 

Well, what care I if, unaccoutred twice, 

I front my foe — no comicality 

Round soul, and body-guard in banishment ? 

Thank your eyes' searching, undisguised I stand : 

The merest female child may question me. 

Spare not, speak bold, Balaustion ! " 

I did speak : 

" Bold speech be — welcome to this honoured hearth, 
Good Genius ! Glory of the poet, glow 
O' the humorist who castigates his kind, 
Suave summer-lightning lambency which plays 


On stag-horned tree, misshapen crag askew, 
Then vanishes with unvindictive smile 
After a moment's laying black earth bare. 
Splendor of wit that springs a thunderball — 
Satire — to burn and purify the world, 
True aim, fair purpose : just wit justly strikes 
Injustice, — right, as rightly quells the Avrong, 
Finds out in knaves', fools', cowards' armoury 
The tricky tinseled place fire flashes through. 
No damage else, sagacious of true ore ; 
Wit, learned in the laurel, leaves each %\Teath 
O'er lyric shell or tragic barbiton, — ■ 
Though alien gauds be singed, — undesecratc. 
The genuine solace of the sacred brow. 
Ay, and how pulses flame a patriot-star 
Steadfast athwart our country's night of things, 
To beacon, would she trust no meteor-blaze, 
Athenai from the rock she steers for straight ! 


O light, light, light, I hail light everywhere. 
No matter for the murk that was, — perchance. 
That will be, — certes, never should have been 
Such orb's associate ! 

" Aristophanes ! 
* The merest female child may question you ? ' 
Once, in my Rhodes, a portent of the wave 
Appalled our coast : for many a darkened day, 
Intolerable mystery and fear. 

Who snatched a furtive glance through crannied peak, 
Could but report of snake-scale, lizard-limb, — 
So swam what, making whirlpools as it went. 
Madded the brine with wrath or monstrous sport. 
' 'Tis Tuphon, loose, unmanacled from mount,' 
Declared the priests, ' no way appeasable 
Unless perchance by virgin-sacrifice ! ' 
Thus grew the terror and o'erhung the doom — 



Until one eve a certain female-child 

Strayed in safe ignorance to seacoast edge, 

And there sate down and sang to please herself. 

When all at once, large-looming from his wave, 

Out leaned, chin hand-propped, pensive on the 

A sea-worn face, sad as mortality. 
Divine with yearning after fellowship. 
He rose but breast-high. So much god she saw ; 
So much she sees now, and does reverence ! " 

Ah, but there followed tail-splash, frisk of fin ! 
Let cloud pass, the sea's ready laugh outbreaks. 
No very godlike trace retained the mouth 
Which mocked with — 

" So, He taught you tragedy ! 
I always asked ' Why may not women act? ' 


Nay, wear the comic visor just as well ; 
Or, better, quite cast off the face-disguise 
And voice-distortion, simply look and speak, 
Real women playing women as men — men ! 
I shall not wonder if things come to that, 
Some day when I am distant far enough. 
Do you conceive the quite new Comedy 
When laws allow ? laws only let girls dance. 
Pipe, posture, — above all, Elaphionize, 
Provided they keep decent — that is, dumb. 
Ay, and, conceiving, I would execute. 
Had I but two lives : one were ovenvorked ! 
How penetrate encrusted prejudice, 
Pierce ignorance three generations thick 
Since first Sousarion crossed our boundary ? 
He battered with a big Megaric stone ; 
Chionides felled oak and rough-hewed thence 
This club I wield now, having spent my life 



In planing knobs and sticking studs to shine ; 
Somebody else must try mere polished steel ! " 

Emboldened by the sober mood's return, 

" Meanwhile," said I, " since planed and studded club 

Once more has pashed competitors to dust, 

And poet proves triumphant with that play, 

Euthukles found last year unfortunate, — 

Does triumph spring from smoothness still more smoothed, 

Fresh studs sowai thick and threefold ? In plain words. 

Have you exchanged brute-blows, — which teach the 

Man may surpass him in brutality, — 
For human fighting, or true god-like force 
Which breathes persuasion nor needs fight at all ? 
Have you essayed attacking ignorance, 
Convicting folly, by their opposites. 
Knowledge and wisdom ? not by yours for ours. 


Fresh ignorance and folly, new for old, 

Greater for less, your crime for our mistake ! 

If so success at last have crowned desert. 

Bringing surprise (dashed haply by concern 

At late discovery — such wild waste of strength 

(And what strength !) went so long to keep in vogue 

Such warfare (and what warfare !) shamed away, 

Made obsolete for ever, as foe fell 

By the first arrow native to the orb, 

First onslaught worthy Aristophanes) — 

Was this conviction's entry that same strange 

' Something that happened ' to confound your feast ? " 

" Ah, did he witness then my play that failed. 
First ' Thesmophoriazousai ? ' Well and good ! 
But did he also see, — your Euthukles, — 
My ' Grasshoppers ' which followed and failed too, 
Three months since, at the ' Little-in-the-Fields ' ? " 


" To say that he did see that First — should say 
He never cared to see its following." 

"There happens to be reason why I wrote 

First play and second also. Ask the cause ! 

Fit answer, authorizing either act, 

I warrant you receive ere talk be done. 

But here 's the point : as Euthukles made vow 

Never again to taste my quality, 

So I was minded next experiment 

Should tickle palate — yea, of Euthukles ! 

Not by such utter change, such absolute 

A topsyturvy of stage-habitude 

As you and he want, — Comedy built fresh, 

By novel brick and mortar, base to roof, — 

No, for I stand too near and look too close ! 

Pleasure and pastime yours, spectators brave, 

Should I turn art's fixed fabric upside do\\Ti ! 


Little you giiess how such tough work tasks soul ! 
Not overtasks, though : give fit strength fair i)lay, 
And strength 's a demiourgos ! ' 

" Art renewed ? 
Ay, in some closet where strength shuts out — first 
The fi-iendly faces, sympathetic cheer : 
* More of the old provision, none supplies 
So bounteously as thou, — our love, our pride, 
Our author of the many a perfect piece ! 
Stick to that standard, change were decadence ! ' 
Next, the unfriendly : ' This time, strain will tire, 
He's fresh, Ameipsias thy antagonist ! ' 
— Or better, in some Salaminian cave 
Where sky and sea and solitude make earth 
And man and noise one insignificance, 
Let strength propose itself, — behind the world, — 
Sole prize worth winning, work that satisfies 


Strength it has dared and done strength's uttermost ! 

After which, — clap-to closet and quit cave, — 

Strength may conclude in Archelaos' court, 

And yet esteem the silken company 

So much sky-scud, sea-froth, earth-thistledown, 

For aught their praise or blame should joy or grieve : 

May lead the still life, ply the wordless task : 

Then only, when seems need to move or speak. 

Moving — for due respect, since statesmen pass, 

(Strength, in the closet, watched how spiders spin !) 

Speaking — when fashion shows intelligence, 

(Strength, in the cave, had whistled to the gulls !) 

Despise the world and reverence yourself, — 

Why, you may unmake things and remake things. 

And throw behind you, unconcerned enough, 

What's made or marred : ' you teach men, are not 

taught ! ' 
So marches off the stage Euripides ! 


" No such thin fiire feeds flesh and blood Ukc mine, 

No such faint fume the Aristophanic soul, 

No such seclusion, closet, cave or court, 

Suits either like our lostephanos 

Worth making happy what coarse way she will — 

The happy-maker, when the cries increase 

About the favourite ! ' Aristophanes ! 

More grist to mill, here's Kleophon to grind ! 

He's for refusing peace, though Sparte cede 

Even Dekeleia ! Here's Kleonumos 

Declaring — if he threw away his shield, 

He'll thrash you till you lay your lyre aside ! 

Orestes bids mind where you walk of nights 

He wants your cloak as you his cudgeling. 

Here's, finally, Melanthios fat with fish, 

The gormandizer-spendthrift-dramatist ! 

So, bustle ! Pounce on opportunity ! 

Let fun a-screaming in I'arabasis, 


Find food for folk agape at either end, 

Mad for amusement ! Times grow better too, 

And should they worsen, why, who laughs, forgets. 

In no case, venture boy-experiments ! 

Old wane 's the wine : new poetry drinks raw : 

Two plays a season is your pledge, beside ; 

So, give us ' Wasps ' again, grown hornets now ! " 

Then he changed. 

" Do you so detect in me — 
Brow-bald, chin-bearded, me, curved cheek, carved lip, 
Or where soul sits and reigns in either eye — 
What suits the — stigma, I say, — style say you, 
Of ' Wine-lees-poet ? ' Bravest of buffoons, 
Less blunt than Telekleides, less obscene 
Than Murtilos, Hermippos : quite a match 
In elegance for Eupolis himself. 


Yet pungent as Kratinos at his best ? 
Graced with traditional immunity 
Ever since, much about my grandsire's time, 
Some funny village-man in Megara, 
Lout-lord and clown-king, used a i)rivilege. 
As due religious drinking-bouts came round, 
To daub his phiz, — no, that was afterward, — 
He merely mounted cart with mates of choice 
And travers'd country, taking house by house, 
At night, — because of danger in the freak, — 
Then hollaed ' Skin-flint starves his labourers ! 
Clench-fist stows figs away, cheats government ! 
Such an one likes to kiss his neighbour's wife. 
And beat his own ; while such another . . Boh ! ' 
Soon came the broad day, circumstantial tale, 
Dancing and verse, and there's our Comedy, 
There's MuUos, there's Euetes, there's the stock 
I shall be proud to graft my powers upon ! 


Protected ? Punished quite as certainly 

When Archons pleased to lay down each his law, — 

Your Morucheides-Surakosios sort, — 

Each season, ' No more naming citizens, 

Only abuse the vice, the vicious spare ! 

Observe, henceforth no Areopagite 

Demean his rank by writing Comedy ! ' 

(They one and all could write the ' Clouds ' of course) 

' Needs must we nick expenditure, allow 

Comedy half a choros, supper — none. 

Times being hard, while applicants increase 

For, what costs cash, the Tragic Trilogy.' 

Lofty Tragedians ! How they lounge aloof 

Each with his Triad, three plays to my one, 

Not counting the contemptuous fourth, the frank 

Concession to mere mortal levity, 

Satyric pittance tossed our beggar-world ! 

Your proud Euripides from first to last 


Doled out some five such, never deigned us more ! 

And these — what curds and whey for marrowy wine ! 

That same Alkestis you so rave about 

Passed muster with him for a Sat)T-play, 

The prig ! — why trifle time with toys and skits 

When he could stuff four ragbags sausage-wise 

With sophistry, with bookish odds and ends, 

Sokrates, meteors, moonshine, ' Life's not Life,' 

* The tongue swore, but unsworn the mind remains,' 

And fifty such concoctions, crab-tree-fruit 

Digested while, head low and heels in heaven, 

He lay, let Comics laugh — for privilege ! 

Looked puzzled on, or pityingly off, 

But never dreamed of paying gibe by jeer, 

Buffet by blow : i)lenty of proverb-pokes 

At vice and folly, wicked kings, mad mobs ! 

No sign of wincing at my Comic lash, 

No protest against infamous abuse, 


Malignant censure, — nought to prove I scourged 
With tougher thong than leek-and-onion-plait ' 
If ever he glanced gloom, aggrieved at all, 
The aggriever must be — Aischulos perhaps : 
Or Sophokles he'd take exception to. 
— Do you detect in me — in me, I ask, 
The man like to accept this measurement 
Of faculty, contentedly sit classed 
Mere Comic Poet — since I wrote ' The Birds' ? " 

I thought there might lurk truth in jest's disguise. 

"Thanks! " he resumed, so quick to construe smile ! 
" I answered — in my mind — these gapers thus : 
Since old wine's ripe and new verse raw, you judge — 
What if I vary vintage-mode and mix 
Blossom with must, give nosegay to the brew. 
Fining, refining, gently, surely, till 


The educated taste turn unawares 

From customary dregs to draught divine ? 

Then answered — with my lips : More ' Wasps ' you want ? 

Come next year and I give you ' Grasshoppers ' ! 

And ' Grasshoppers ' I gave them, — last month's play. 

They formed the Choros. Alkibiades, 

No longer Triphales but Trilophos, 

(Whom I called Uarling-of-the-Summertime, 

Born to be nothing else but beautiful 

And brave, to eat, drink, love his life away) 

Persuades the Tettix (our Autochthon-brood, 

That sip the dew and sing on olive-branch 

Above the ant-and-emmet populace) 

To summon all who meadow, hill and dale 

Inhabit, bee, wasp, woodlouse, dragonfly. 

To band themselves against red nipper-nose 

Stagbeetle, huge Taiigetan (you guess — 

Sparte) Athenai needs must battle with. 


Because her sons are grown effeminate 
To that degree — so morbifies their flesh 
The poison-drama of Euripides, 
Morals and music — there's no antidote 
Occurs save warfare which inspirits blood, 
And brings us back perchance the blessed time 
When (Choros takes up tale) our commonalty 
Firm in primaeval virtue, antique faith, 
Ere earwig-sophist plagued or pismire-sage, 
Cockered no noddle up with A, b, g, 
Book-learning, logic-chopping, and the moon, 
But just employed their brains on '■Ruppapai, 
Row, boys, munch barley-bread, and take your ease- 
Mindful, however, of the tier beneath !' 
Ah, golden epoch ! while the nobler sort 
(Such needs must study, no contesting that !) 
Wore no long curls but used to crop their hair. 
Gathered the tunic well about the ham, 


Remembering 'twas soft sand they used for seat 
At school-time, while — mark this — the lesson long, 
No learner ever dared to cross his legs ! 
Then, if you bade him take the myrtle-bough 
And sing for supper — 'twas some grave romaunt 
How man of Mitulen'e, 7i.w7idrous wise, 
yumpcd into hedge, by mortals quickset called. 
And there, anticipating Oidipous, 
Scratched cut his eyes and scratched them in again. 
None of your Phaidras, Auges, Kanake's, 
To mincing music, turn, trill, tweedle-trash, 
\\'hence comes that Marathon is obsolete ! 
Next, my Antistrophe was — praise of Peace : 
Ah, could our people know what Peace imj^lies ! 
Home to the farm and furrow ! Grub one's vine, 
Romp with one's Thratta, pretty serving-girl, 
When wifie's busy bathing ! Eat and drink, 
And drink and eat, what else is good in life ? 


Slice hare, toss pancake, gaily gurgle down 
The Thasian grape in celebration due 
Of Bacchos ! Welcome, dear domestic rite, 
When wife and sons and daughters, Thratta too, 
Pour peasoup as we chant delectably 
/// Bacchos reels, his tunic at his heels ! 
Enough, you comprehend, — I do at least ! 
Then, — be but patient, — the Parabasis ! 
Pray ! For in that I also pushed reform. 
None of the self-laudation, vulgar brag, 
Vainglorious rivals cultivate so much ! 
No ! If some merest word in Art's defence 
Justice demanded of me, — never fear ! 
Claim was preferred, but dignifiedly. 
A cricket asked a locust (winged, you know) 
What he had seen most rare in foreign parts ? 
' I have flown far,' chirped he, ' North, East, South 


And nowhere heard of poet worth a fig 

If matched with Bald-head here, Aigina's boast, 

Wlio in this play bids rivalry despair 

Past, present and to come, so marvelous 

His Tragic, Comic, Lyric excellence ! 

Whereof the fit reward were (not to speak 

Of dinner every day at public cost 

r the Prutaneion) supper with yourselves, 

My Public, best dish oftered bravest bard ! ' 

No more ! no sort of sin against good taste ! 

Then, satire, — Oh, a jilain necessity ! 

But I won't tell you : for— could I dispense 

AVith one more gird at old Ariphrades ? 

How scorpion-like he feeds on human flesh — 

Ever finds out some novel infamy 

Unutterable, inconceivable, 

AMiich all the greater need was to describe 

Minutely, each tail-twist at ink-shed time . . . 


Now, what's your gesture caused by ? What you loathe, 

Don't I loathe doubly, else why take such pains 

To tell it you ? But keep your prejudice ! 

My audience justified you ! Housebreakers ! 

This pattern-purity was played and failed 

Last Rural Dionusia — failed ! for why ? 

Ameipsias followed with the genuine stuff. 

He had been mindful to engage the Four — • 

Karkinos and his dwarf-crab-family — 

Father and sons, they whirled like spinning-tops, 

Choros gigantically poked his fun. 

The boys' frank laugh relaxed the seniors' brow, 

The skies re-echoed victory's acclaim, 

Ameipsias gained his due, I got my dose 

Of wisdom for the future. Purity? 

No more of that next month, Athenai mine ! 

Contrive new cut of robe who will, — I patch 

The old exomis, add no purple sleeve ! 


The Thesmophoriazousai, smartened up 

AVith certain plaits, shall please, I promise you ! 

" Yes, I tooknip the play that failed last year, 

And re-arranged things; threw adroitly in, — 

Xo Parachoregema, — men to match 

My women there already ; and when these 

(I had a hit at Aristullos here, 

His plan how womankind should rule the roast) 

Drove men to plough — ' A-field, ye cribbed of cape ! ' 

Men showed themselves exempt from service straight 

Stupendously, till all the boys cried ' Brave ! ' 

Then for the elders, I bethought me too, 

I mproved upon Mnesilochos' release 

From the old bowman, board and binding-strap : 

I made his son-in-law Euripides 

Engage to put both shrewish wives away, 

' Gravity,' one, the other, ' Sophist-lore,' 


And mate with the Bald Bard's hetairai twain — 

' Goodhumour ' and ' Indulgence ' : on they trii)ped, 

Murrhine, Akalanthis, — ' beautiful 

Their whole belongings' — crowd joined choros there 

And while the Toxotes wound up his part 

By shower of nuts and sweetmeats on the mob, 

The woman-choros celebrated New 

Kalligeneia, the frank last-day rite. 

Brief, I was chaired and caressed and crowned 

And the whole theatre broke out a-roar, 

Echoed my admonition — choros-cap — 

Rivals of inijie., your Jiands to your faces ! 

Summon no more the Muses., the Graces, 

Since here by my side they Jiai'e chosen their places ! 

And so we all flocked merrily to feast, — 

I, my choragos, choros, actors, mutes 

And flutes aforesaid, friends in crowd, no fear, 

At the Priest's supper ; and hilarity 


Grew none the less that, early in the piece, 

Ran a report, from row to row close-packed. 

Of messenger's arrival at the Port 

With weighty tidings, ' Of Lusandros' flight,' 

Opined one ; ' That Euboia penitent 

Sends the Confederation fifty ships,' 

Preferred another ; while ' The Great King's Eye 

Has brought a present for Elaphion here, 

That rarest peacock Kompolakuthes ! ' 

Such was the supposition of a third. 

' No matter what the news,' friend Strattis laughed, 

' It won't be worse for waiting : while each click 

Of the klepsudra sets a- shaking grave 

Resentment in our shark's-head, boiled and spoiled 

By this time : dished in Sphettian vinegar, 

Silphion and honey, served with cocks'-brain-sauce ! 

So, swift to supper. Poet ! No mistake, 

This play ; nor, like the unflavoured ' Grasshoppers,' 


Salt without thyme ! ' Right merrily we supped, 
Till — something happened. 

" Out it shall, at last ! 

" Mirth drew to ending, for the cup was crowned 

To the Triumphant ! ' Kleonclapper erst, 

Now, Plier of a scourge Euripides 

Fairly turns tail from, flying Attike 

For Makedonia's rocks and frosts and bears. 

Where, furry grown, he growls to match the squeak 

Of girl-voiced, crocus-vested Agathon ! 

Ha ha, he he ! ' When suddenly a knock — 

Sharp, solitary, cold, authoritative. 

' Babaiax ! Sokrates a-passing by, 

A-peering in, for AristuUos' sake. 

To put a question touching Comic Law ? ' 


" No ! Enters an old pale-swathed majesty, 
Makes slow mute passage through two ranks as mute, 
(Strattis stood up witli all the rest, the sneak !) 
Grey brow still bent on ground, upraised at length 
When, our Priest reached, full-front the vision paused. 

' Priest ! ' — the deep tone succeeded the fixed gaze — 

' Thou carcst that thy god have spectacle 

Decent and seemly ; wherefore. I announce 

That, since Euripides is dead to-day, 

,My Choros, at the Greater Feast, next month, 

Shall, clothed in black, appear ungarlanded ! ' 

" Then the grey brow sank low, and So^jhokles 
Re-swathed him, sweeping doorward : mutely passed 
'Twixt rows as mute, to mingle possibly 
With certain gods who convoy age to i)ort ; 
And ni<fht resumed him. 


" When our stupor broke, 
Chirpings took courage, and grew audible. 

' Dead — so one speaks now of Euripides ! ' 

' Ungarlanded his Chores, did he say? 

I guess the reason : in extreme old age 

No doubt such have the gods for visitants. 

Why did he dedicate to Herakles 

An altar else, but that the god, turned Judge, 

Told him in dream who took the crown of 

He who restored Akropolis the theft. 
Himself may feel perhaps a timely twinge 
At thought of certain other crowns he filched 
From — who now visits Herakles the Judge. 
Instance ' Medeia ' ! that play yielded palm 
To Sophokles ; and he again — to whom ? 
Euphorion ! Why ? Ask Herakles the Judge ! ' 


Ungarlanded, just means— economy ! 

Suppress robes, chaplets, ever}'thing suppress 

Except the poet's present ! An old tale 

Put capitally by Trugaios — eh ? 

" News from the world of transfomiation strange ! 

How Sophokles is grown Simonides, 

And, — aged, rotten,— all the same, for greed 

Would venture on a hurdle out to sea ! " 

So jokes Philonides. Kallistratos 

Retorts ' Mistake ! Instead of stinginess — 

The fact is, in extreme decrepitude, 

He has discarded poet and turned priest, 

Priest of Half-Hero Alkon : visited 

In his own house too by Asklepios' self, 

So he avers. Meanwhile, his own estate 

Lies fallow ; lophon 's tlic manager,— 

Nay, touches up a play, brings out the same. 

Asserts tme sonship. See to what )OU sink 


After your dozen-dozen prodigies ! 
Looking so old — Euripides seems young, 
Born ten years later.' 

' Just his tricky style ! 
Since, stealing first away, he wins first word 
Out of goodnatured rival Sophokles, 
Procures himself no bad panegyric. 
Had fate willed otherwise, himself were taxed 
To pay survivor's-tribute, — harder squeezed 
From anybody beaten first to last, 
Than one who, steadily a conqueror. 
Finds that his magnanimity is tasked 
To merely make pretence and — beat itself ! ' 

" So chirped the feasters though suppressedly. 

" But I — what else do you suppose ? — had pierced 


Quite through friends' outside-straining, foes' mock- 
And reached conviction hearted under all. 
Death's rapid line had closed a life's account. 
And cut off, left unalterably clear 
The summed-up value of Euripides. 

" Well, it might be the Thasian ! Certainly 

11iere sang suggestive music in my ears ; 

And, through — what sophists style — the wall of sense 

My eyes pierced : death seemed life and life seemed 

Envisaged that way, now, which I, before, 
Conceived was just a moon-struck mood. Quite plain 
There re- insisted, — ay, each prim stiff phrase 
Of each old l>lay, my still-new laughing-stock, 
Had meaning, well worth poet's pains to state, 
Should life prove half true life's term — death, the rest. 


As for the other cjuestion, late so large 

Now all at once so little, — he or I, 

Which better comprehended playAvright craft, — 

There, too, old admonition took fresh point. 

As clear recurred our last word-interchange 

Two years since, when I tried with ' Ploutos.' ' Vain I ' 

Saluted me the cold grave-bearded age — 

' Vain, this late trial, Aristophanes ! 

None baulks the genius with impunity ! 

You know what kind's the nobler, what makes grave 

Or what makes grin ; there's yet a nobler still, 

Possibly, — what makes wise, not grave, — and glad, 

Not grinning : whereby laughter joins with tears, 

Tragic and Comic Poet prove one power. 

And Aristoj^hanes becomes our Fourth — 

Nay, greatest ! Never needs the Art stand still. 

But those Art leans on lag, and none like you, 

Her strongest of supports, whose step aside 


Undoes the march : defection checks advance 

Too late adventured ! See the " Ploutos " here ! 

This step decides your foot from old to new — 

Proves you relinquish song and dance and jest, 

Discard the beast, and, rising from all-fours. 

Fain would paint, manlike, actual human life. 

Make veritable men think, say and do. 

Here's the conception : which to execute, 

^Vhere's force ? Spent ! Ere the race began, was 

O' the runner squandered on each friendly fool — 
Wit-fireworks fizzed off while day craved no fiame : 
How should the night receive her due of fire 
Flared out in Wasps and Horses, Clouds and Birds, 
Prodigiously a-crackle ? Rest content ! 
The new adventure for the novel man 
Born to that next success myself foresee 
In riiiht of where I reach before I rest. 


At end of a long course, straight all the way, 

Well may there tremble somewhat into ken 

The untrod path, clouds veiled from earlier gaze ! 

None may live two lives : I have lived mine through, 

Die where I first stand still. You retrograde. 

I leave my life's work_ / compete with you, 

My last with your last, my ' Antiope ' — 

' Phoinissai '—with this ' Ploutos ? ' No, I think ! 

Ever shall ' great and awful Victory 

Accompany my life ' — in Maketis 

If not Athenai. Take my farewell, friend ! 

Friend, — for from no consummate excellence 

T>ike yours, whatever fault may countervail, 

Do I profess estrangement : murk the marsh. 

Yet where a solitary marble block 

Blanches the gloom, there let the eagle perch ! 

You show — what splinters of Pentelikos, 

Islanded by what ordure ! Eagles fly, 


Rest on the right place, thence depart as free ; 
But ware man's footstep, would it traverse mire 
Untainted ! Mire is safe for worms that crawl." 

" Balaustion ! Here are very' many words, 
All to portray one moment's rush of thought, — 
And much they do it ! Still, you understand. 
The Archon, the Feast-master, read their sura 
And substance, judged the banquet-glow extinct, 
So rose, discreetly if abruptly, crowned 
The parting cup, — ' To the Good Genius, then ! ' 

" Up starts young Strattis for a final flash : 

' Ay, the Good Genius ! To the Comic Muse, 

She who evolves superiority, 

Triumph and joy from sorrow, un success 

And all that's incomplete in human life ; 

Who proves such actual failure transient wrong, 



Since out of body uncouth, halt and maimed— 
Since out of soul grotesque, corrupt or blank — 
Fancy, uplifted by the Muse, can flit 
To soul and body, re-instate them Man : 
Beside which perfect man, how clear we see 
Divergency from type was earth's effect ! 
Escaping whence by laughter, — Fancy's feat, — 
We right man's wrong, establish true for false, — 
Above misshapen body, uncouth soul, 
Reach the fine form, the clear intelligence — 
Above unseemhness, reach decent law, — 
By laughter : attestation of the Muse 
That low-and-ugsome is not signed and sealed 
Incontrovertibly man's portion here, 
Or, if here,— why, still high-and-fair exists 
In that etherial realm where laughs our soul 
Lift by the Muse, Hail then her ministrant ! 
Hail who accepted no deformity 


In man as normal and remediless, 
But rather pushed it to such gross extreme 
That outraged we protest by eye's recoil 
The opposite proves somewhere rule and law I 
Hail who implied, by limning Lamachos, 
' Plenty and pastime wait on peace, not war ! ' 
Philokleon — ' better bear a wrong than plead, 
Play the litigious fool to stuff the mouth 
Of dikast with the due three-obol fee ! ' 
The Paphlagonian — ' stick to the old sway 
Of few and wise, not rabble-government ! ' 
Trugaios, Pisthetairos, Strepsiades, — 
Why multiply examples? Hail, in fine, 
The hero of each painted monster — so 
Suggesting the unpictured perfect shape ! 
Pour out ! A laugh to Aristophanes ! ' 

" Stay, my fine Strattis " — and I stopped applause — 

G 2 


" To the Good Genius— but the Tragic Muse ! 
She who instructs her poet ' Bid man's soul 
Play man's part merely nor attempt the gods' 
Ill-guessed of ! Task humanity to height, 
Put passion to prime use, urge will, unshamed 
When will's last effort breaks in impotence ! 
No power forego, elude : no weakness, — plied 
Fairly by power and will, — renounce, deny ! 
Acknowledge, in such miscalled weakness, strength 
Latent : and substitute thus things for words ! 
Make man run life's race fairly, — legs and feet. 
Craving no false wings to o'erfly its length ! 
Trust on, trust ever, trust to end — in truth ! 
By truth of extreme passion, utmost will, 
Shame back all false display of either force — 
Barrier about such strenuous heat and glow, 
That cowardice shall shirk contending,— cant, 
Pretension, shrivel at truth's first approach ! 


Pour to the Tragic Muse's ministrant 

Who, as he pictured pure Hippolutos, 

AboHshed our earth's blot Ariphrades ; 

Who, as he drew Bellerophon the bold, 

Proclaimed Kleonumos incredible; 

Who, as his Theseus towered up man once more, 

Made Alkibiades shrink boy again ! 

A tear — no woman's tribute, weak exchange 

For action, water spent and heart's-blood saved — 
No man's regret for greatness gone, ungraced 
Perchance by even that poor meed, man's praise — 
But some god's superabundance of desire. 
Yearning of will to 'scape necessity, — 
Love's overbrimming for self sacrifice, 
\Vhence good might be, which never else may be, 
By power displayed, forbidden this strait sphere, — 
Effort expressible one only way — 
Such tear from me fall to Euripides ! ' 


" The Thasian !— All, the Thasian, I account ! 

" Whereupon outburst the whole company 
Into applause and — laughter, would you think ? 

' The unrivalled one ! How, never at a loss, 

He turns the Tragic on its Comic side 

Else imperceptible ! Here's death itself — 

Death of a rival, of an enemy, — 

Scarce seen as Comic till the master-touch 

Made it acknowledge Aristophanes ! 

Lo, that Euripidean laurel-tree 

Struck to the heart by lightning ! Sokrates 

Would question us, with buzz of ' how ' and ' why,' 

Wherefore the berry's virtue, the bloom's vice, 

Till we all wished him quiet with his friend ; 

Agathon would compose an elegy, 

Lyric bewailment fit to move a stone, 


And, stones responsive, we might wince, 'tis like ; 
Nay, with most cause of all to weep the least, 
Sophokles ordains mourning for his sake 
While we confess to a remorseful twinge : — 
Suddenly, who but Aristophanes, 
Prompt to the rescue, puts forth solemn hand, 
Singles us out the tragic tree's best branch. 
Persuades it groundward and, at tip, appends, 
For votive-visor. Faun's goat-grinning face ! 
Back it flies, evermore with jest a-top. 
And we recover the true mood, and laugh ! ' 

" I felt as when some Nikias, — ninny-like 
Troubled by sunspot-portent, moon-eclipse, — 
At fault a little, sees no choice but sound 
Retreat from foeman ; and his troops mistake 
The signal and hail onset in the blast, 
And at their joyous answer, alale, 


Back the old courage brings the scattered wits ; 
He wonders what his doubt meant, quick confirms 
The happy error, blows the charge amain. 
So I repaired things. 

" Both be praised " thanked I. 
" You who have laughed with Aristophanes, 
You who wept rather -with the Lord of Tears I 
Priest, do thou, president alike o'er each, 
Tragic and Comic function of the god. 
Help with libation to the blended twain ! 
Either of which who serving, only serves — 
Proclaims himself disqualified to pour 
To that Good Genius — complex Poetry, 
Uniting each god-grace, including both : 
Which, operant for body as for soul, 
Masters alike the laughter and the tears, 
Supreme in lowliest earth, sublimest sky. 
Who dares disjoin these, — whether he ignores 


Body or soul, whichever half destroys, — 

Maims the else perfect manhood, perpetrates 

Again the inexpiable crime we curse — 

Hacks at the Hennai, halves each guardian shape 

Combining, nowise vainly, prominence 

Of august head and enthroned intellect. 

With homelier symbol of asserted sense, — 

Nature's prime impulse, earthly appetite. 

For, when our folly ventures on the freak, 

Would fain abolish joy and fmitfulness, 

Mutilate nature — what avails the Head 

Left solitarily i)redominant, — 

Unbodied soul, — not Hermes, both in one ? 

I, no more than our City, acquiesce 

In such a desecration, but defend 

Man's double nature — ay, wert thou its foe ! 

Could I once more, thou cold Euripides, 

Encounter thee, in nought would I abate 


My warfare, nor subdue my worst attack 

On thee whose hfe-work preached ' Raise soul, sink sense ! 

Evirate Hermes ! ' — would avenge the god, 

And justify myself Once face to face, 

Thou, the argute and tricksy, shouldst not wrap, 

As thine old fashion was, in silent scorn 

Those breast-beats quickened at the sting of truth ; 

Nor turn from me, as, if the tale be true. 

From Lais when she met thee in thy walks, 

Demanded why she had no rights as thou. 

Not so shouldst thou betake thee, be assured, 

To book and pencil, deign me no reply ! 

I would extract an answer from those lips 

So closed and cold, were mine the garden-chance ! 

Gone from the world ! Does none remain to take 

Thy part and ply me with thy sophist-skill? 

No sun makes proof of his whole potency 

For gold and purple in that orb we view ; 


The apparent orb does little but leave blind 

The audacious, and confused the worshiping. 

But, close on orb's departure, must succeed 

The serviceable cloud, — must intervene. 

Induce expenditure of rose and blue. 

Reveal what lay in him, was lost to us. 

So, friends, what hinders, as we homeward go, 

If, privileged by triumph gained to-day, 

We clasp that cloud our sun left saturate, 

The Rhodian rosy with Euripides ? 

Not of my audience on my triumph-day. 

She and her husband ! After the night's news 

Neither will sleep, but watch ; I know the mood. 

Accompany ! my crown declares my right ! " 

" And here you stand with those warm golden eyes ! 

" In honest language, I am scarce too sure 
Whether I really felt, indeed expressed 


Then, in that presence, things I now repeat : 
Nor half, nor any one word, — will that do ? 
May be, such eyes must strike conviction, turn 
One's nature bottom upwards, show the base — 
The live rock latent under wave and foam : 
Superimposure these ! Yet solid stuff 
Will ever and anon, obeying star, 
(And what star reaches rock-nerve like an eye ?) 
Swim up to surface, spout or mud or flame, 
And find no more to do than sink as fast. 

" Anyhow, I have followed happily 

The impulse, pledged my Genius with effect. 

Since, come to see you, I am shown — myself ! " 

I answered : 

" One of us declared for both 
' Welcome the glory of Aristophanes.' 


The other adds ' and,— if that glory last, 
Nor marsh-born vapour creep to veil the same, — 
Once entered, share in our solemnity ! 
Commemorate, as we, Euripides ! " 

" What ? " he looked round, " I darken the bright house ? 
Profane the temple of your deity ? 
That's true ! Else wherefore does he stand portrayed ? 
What Rhodian paint and pencil saved so much, 
Beard, freckled face, brow— all but breath, I hope ! 
Come, that's unfair : myself am somebody, 
Yet my pictorial fame 's just potter's work, — 
I barely figure on men's drinking-mugs ! 

I and the Flat-nose, Sophroniskos' son, 

Oft make a pair. But what's this lies below ? 

His table-book and graver, playwright's tool ! 

And lo, the sweet psalterion, strung and screwed, 

Whereon he tried those le-e-e-e-cs 


And ke-e-e-e-es and turns and trills, 

Lovely lark's tirra-lirra, lad's delight ! 

Aischulos' bronze-throat eagle-bark at blood 

Has somehow spoiled my taste for twitterings ! 

With . . what, and did he leave you ' Herakles ? ' 

The ' Frenzied Hero,' one unfractured sheet, 

No pine-wood tablets smeared with treacherous 

wax — 
Papuros perfect as e'er tempted pen ! 
This sacred twist of bay-leaves dead and sere 
Must be that crown the fine work failed to catch, — 
No wonder ! This might crown ' Antiope.' 
' Herakles ' triumph ? In your heart perhaps ! 
But elsewhere ? Come now, I'll explain the case, 
Show you the' main mistake. Give me the sheet ! " 

I interrupted : 

" Aristophanes ! 


The stranger-woman sues in her abode — 

' Be honored as our guest ! ' But, call it — shrine, 

Then ' No dishonor to the Daimon ! ' bids 

The priestess ' or expect dishonor's due ! ' 

You enter fresh from your worst infamy, 

Last instance of long outrage ; yet I pause, 

Withhold the word a-tremble on my lip, 

Incline me, rather, yearn to reverence, — 

So you but suffer that I see the blaze 

And not the bolt, — the splendid fancy-fling, 

Not the cold iron malice, the launched lie 

Whence heavenly fire has withered ; impotent, 

Yet execrable, leave it 'neath the look 

Of yon impassive presence ! What he scorned, 

His life long, need 1 touch, offending foot, 

To prove that malice missed its mark, that lie 

Cumbers the ground, returns to whence it came ? 

I marvel, I deplore, — the rest be mute ! 


But, throw off hate's celestiahty, — 

Show me, apart from song-flash and wit-flame, 

A mere man's hand ignobly clenched against 

Yon supreme calmness, — and I interpose, 

Such as you see me ! Silk breaks lightning's blow ! ' 

He seemed to scarce so much as notice me, 
Aught T had spoken, save the final phrase : 
Arrested there. 

" Euripides grown calm ! 
Calmness supreme means dead and therefore safe," 
He muttered ; then more audibly began — 

" Dead ! Such must die ! Could people comprehend 

There's the unfairness of it ! So obtuse 

Are all : from Solon downward with his saw 

' Let none revile the dead, — no, though the son, 


Nay, far descendant, should revile thyself ! ' — 

To him who made Elektra, in the act 

Of Avreaking vengeance on her worst of foes, 

Scruple to blame, since speech that blames insults 

Too much the very villain life-released. 

Now, / say, only after death, begins 

That formidable claim, — immunity 

Of foultiness from fault's due punishment ! 

The living, who deflime me, — why, they live : 

Fools, — I best prove them foolish by their life, 

Will they but work on, lay their work by mine, 

And wait a litUe, one Olympiad, say ! 

Then — -where's the vital force, mine froze beside ? 

The sturdy fibre, shamed my brittle stuff? 

The school-correctness, sure of wise award 

When my vagaries cease to tickle taste ? 

Where's censure that must sink me, judgment big 

Awaiting just the word posterity 



Pants to pronounce? Time's wave breaks, buries- 

Fools, when myself confronts you four years hence ? 
But die, ere next Lenaia, — safely so 
You 'scape me, slink with all your ignorance, 
Stupidity and malice, to that hole 
O'er which survivors croak ' Respect the dead ! ' 
Ay, for I needs must ! But allow me clutch 
Only a carrion-handful, lend it sense, 
(Mine, not its own, or could it answer me ?) 
And question ' You, I pluck from hiding-place. 
Whose cant was, certain years ago, my ' Clouds ' 
Might last until the swallows came with Spring — 
Whose chatter, ' Birds ' are unintelligible. 
Mere psychologic puzzling : poetry ? 
List, the true lay to rock a cradle with ! 
O man of Mitidene, wondrous wise / ' 
— Would not I rub each face in its own filth 


To tune of ' Now that years have come and gone, 
How does the fact stand ? What's demonstrable 
By time, that tries things? — your own test, not mine 
Who think men are, were, ever will be fools, 
Though somehow fools confute fools, — as these, you ! 
Don't mumble to the sheepish twos and threes 
You cornered and called ' audience ! ' face .this me 
Who know, and can, and — helped by fifty years — 
Do pulverize you pygmies, then as now ! ' 

Ay, now as then, I pulverize the brood, 
Balaustion ! Mindful, from the first, where foe 
Would hide head safe when hand had flung its stone. 
I did not turn cheek and take pleasantry, 
But flogged while skin could purple and flesh start, 
To teach fools whom they tried conclusions with. 
First face a-splutter at me got such splotch 
Of prompt slab mud as, filling mouth to maw, 

H 2 


Made its concern thenceforward not so mucli 

To criticize me as go cleanse itself. 

Tlie only drawback to which huge delight, — 

(He saw it, how he saw it, that calm cold 

Sagacity you call Euripides !) 

— Why, 'tis that, make a muckheap of a man, 

There, pillared by your prowess, he remains, 

Immortally immerded. Not so he ! 

Men pelted him but got no pellet back. 

He reasoned, I'll engage, — ' Acquaint the world 

Certain minuteness butted at my knee ? 

Dogface Eruxis, the small satirist, — 

What better would the manikin desire 

Than to strut forth on tiptoe, notable 

As who so far up fouled me in the flank? ' 

So dealt he with the dwarfs : we giants, too, 

Wliy must we emulate their pin-point play ? 

Render imperishable — impotence, 


I'or mud throw mountains? Zeus, by mud unreached, — 
AVcll, 'twas no dwarf he heaved Ohmipos at ! 

My heart burned up within me to my tongue. 

•• And why must men remember, ages hence, 
Who it was rolled down rocks, but refuse too — 
Strattis might steal from ! mixture-monument, 
Recording what ? ' I, Aristophanes, 
Who boast me much inventive in my art. 
Against Euripides thus volleyed muck 
because, in art, he too extended bounds. 
I — patriot, loving peace and hating war, — 
Choosing the rule of few, but wise and good, 
Rather than mob-dictature, fools and knaves 
1 lowever multiplied their mastery, — 
1 )espising most of all the demagogue, 
(Noisome air-bubble, buoyed up, borne along 


By kindred breath of knave and fool below, 
Whose hearts swell proudly as each puffing face 
Grows big, reflected in that glassy ball, 
Vacuity, just bellied out to break 
And righteously bespatter friends the first) 
Loathing, — beyond a less puissant speech 
Than my own god-grand language to declare, — 
The fawning, cozenage and calumny 
Wherewith such favorite feeds the populace 
That fan and set him flying for reward : — 
I who, detecting what vice underlies 
Thought's superstructure, — fancy's sludge and slime 
'Twixt fact's sound floor and thought's mere surface- 
Of hopes and fears which root no deeplier down 
Than where all such mere fungi breed and bloat — 
Namely, man's misconception of the God : — 
I, loving, hating, wishful from my soul 


That truth should triumph, falsehood have defeat, 
— ^^'hy, all my soul's supremacy of power 
Did I pour out in volley just on him 
^\'ho, his whole life long, championed every cause 
I called my heart's cause, loving as I loved, 
Hating my hates, one false one true for both, — 
Championed my cause — not flagellating foe 
With simple rose and lily, gibe and jeer, 
Sly wink of boon-companion o'er his bowze 
\Vho, while he blames the liquor, smacks the lip, 
Blames, doubtless, but leers condonation too, — 
No, the balled fist broke brow like thunderbolt. 
Battered till brain flew ! Seeing Avhich descent, 
None questioned that was first acquaintanceship, 
The avenger's with the vice he crashed through bone. 
Still, he displeased me ; and I turned from foe 
To fellow-fighter, flung much stone, more mud, — 
But missed him, since he lives aloof, I see.' 


Pah ! stop more shame deep-cutting glory through, 

Nor add, this poet, learned, — found no taunt 

Tell like * That other poet studies books ! ' 

Wise, — cried ' At each attempt to move our hearts, 

He uses the mere phrase of daily life ! ' 

Witty, — ' His mother was a herb-woman ! ' 

Veracious, honest, loyal, fair-and-good,— 

' It was Kephisophon who helped him write ! ' 

" Whence, — O the tragic end of comedy I — 

Balaustion pities Aristophanes. 

For, who believed him ? Those who laughed so loud ? 

They heard him call the sun Sicilian cheese ! 

Had he called true cheese — curd, would muscle move ? 

What made them laugh but the enormous lie ? 

' Kephisophon wrote ' Herakles ? ' ha, ha, 

What can have stirred the wine-dregs, soured the soul. 

And set a-lying Aristophanes ? 


Some accident at which he took offence ! 
The Tragic Master in a moody muse 
Passed him unhailing, and it hurts — it hurts ! 
Beside, there's licence for the Wine-lees-song ! ' " 

Blood burnt the cheek-bone, each black eye flashed fierce. 

" But this exceeds our licence ! Stay awhile — 
That's the solution ! both are foreigners, 
'i'he fresh-come Rhodian lady, and her spouse 
Tlie man of Phokis : newly resident. 
Nowise instmcted — that explains it all ! 
No born and bred Athenian but would smile, 
Unless frown seemed more fit for ignorance. 
These strangers have a privilege ! 

" You blame " 
(Presently he resumed with milder mien) 


" Both theory and practice — Comedy : 
Blame her from altitudes the Tragic friend 
Rose to, and upraised friends along with him, 
No matter how. Once there, all's cold and fine, 
Passionless, rational ; our world beneath 
Shows (should you condescend to grace so much 
As glance at poor Athenai) grimly gross — 
A population which, mere flesh and blood, 
Eats, drinks and kisses, falls to fisticuffs. 
Then hugs as hugely : speaks too as it acts, 
Prodigiously talks nonsense, — townsmen needs 
Must parley in their town's vernacular. 
Such world has, of two courses, one to choose : 
Unworld itself, — or else go blackening off 
To its crow-kindred, leave philosophy 
Her heights serene, fit perch for owls like you. 
Now, since the world demurs to either course, 
Permit me, — in default of boy or girl. 


So tlicy be reared Athenian, good and true, — 

To praise what you most blame ! Hear Art's defence ! 

I'll prove our institution, Comedy, 

Coeval with the birth of freedom, matched 

So nice with our Republic, that its growth 

Measures each greatness, just as its decline 

Would signalize the downfall of the pair. 

Our Art began when Bacchos . . . never mind ! 

Vou and }our master don't acknowledge gods : 

' They are not, no, they are not ! ' well, — began 

When the rude instinct of our race outspoke, 

Found, — on recurrence of festivity 

Occasioned by black mother-earth's good will 

To children, as they took her vintage-gifts, — 

Found — not the least of many benefits — 

That wine unlocked the stififest lip, and loosed 

The tongue late dry and reticent of joke, 

Through custom's gripe which gladness thrusts aside. 


So, emulating liberalities, 

Heaven joined with earth for that god's day at least, 

Renewed man's privilege, grown obsolete, 

Of telling truth nor dreading punishment. 

Whereon the joyous band disguised their forms 

With skins, beast-fashion, daubed each phiz with dregs, 

Then hollaed ' Neighbour, you are fool, you — knave. 

You — hard to serve, you — stingy to reward ! ' 

The guiltless crowed, the guilty sunk their crest, 

And good folks gained thereby, 'twas evident. 

Whence, by degrees, a birth of happier thought. 

The notion came — not simply this to say, 

Eut this to do — prove, put in evidence. 

And act the fool, the knave, the harsh, the hunks, 

"Who ^//i'/ prate, cheat, shake fist, draw pursestring tight. 

As crowd might see, which only heard before. 

So played the Poet, with his man of parts ; 


And all the others, found unqualified 
To mount cart and l)e persons, made the mob, 
Joined choros, fortified their fellows' fun. 
Anticipated the community. 
Gave judgment which the public ratified. 
Suiting rough weapon doubtless to plain truth, 
They flung, for word-artillery, why— filth ; 
Still, folks who wiped the unsavory salute 
From visage, would prefer the m.ess to wit — 
Steel, poked through midriff with a civil speech, 
As now the way is : then, the kindlier mode 
Was — drub not stab, ribroast not scarify ! 
So did Sousarion introduce, and so, 
Did I, acceding, find the Comic Art : 
Club, — if I call it, — notice what's implied ! 
An engine proper for rough chastisement, 
No downright slaying : with impunity — 
Provided crabtree, steeped in oily joke, 


Deal only such a bruise as laughter cures. 
I kept the gained advantage : stickled still 
For club-law — stout fun and allowanced thumps : 
Knocked in each knob a crevice to hold joke 
As fig-leaf holds the fat-fry. 

"Next, whom thrash ? 
Only the coarse fool and the clownish knave ? 
Higher, more artificial, composite 
Offence should prove my prowess, eye and arm ! 
Not who robs henroost, tells of untaxed figs, 
Spends all his substance on stewed ellops-fish, 
Or gives a pheasant to his neighbour's wife : 
No ! strike malpractice that affects the State, 
The common weal — intriguer or poltroon, 
Venality, corruption, what care I 
If shrewd or witless merely? — so the thing 
Lay sap to aught that made Athenai bright 


And happy, change her customs, lead astray 

Youth or age, play the demagogue at Pnux, 

The sophist in Palaistra, or — what's worst, 

As widest mischief, — from the Theatre 

Preach innovation, bring contempt on oaths, 

Adorn licentiousness, despise the Cult. 

Are such to be my game? ^^'hy, then there wants 

Quite other cunning than a cudgel-sweep ! 

Grasp the old stout stock, but new tip with steel 

Each boss, if I would bray — no callous hide 

Simply, but Lamachos in coat of proof. 

Or Kleon cased about with impudence ! 

Shaft pushed no worse while point pierced sparkling so 

That none smiled ' Sportive, what seems savagest, 

— Innocuous anger, spiteless rustic mirth ! ' 

Yet spiteless in a sort, considered well. 

Since I pursued my warfare till each wound 

Went through the mere man, reached the principle 


^^^orth purging from Athenai. Lamachos ? 
No, I attacked war's representative ; 
Kleon ? No, flattery of the populace ; 
Sokrates ? No, but that pernicious seed 
Of sophists whereby hopeful youth is taught 
To jabber argument, chop logic, pore 
On sun and moon, and worship Whirligig. 
Oh, your tragedian, with the lofty grace. 
Aims at no other and effects as much ? 
Candidly : what's a poUshed period worth, 
Filed curt sententiousness of loaded line, 
When he who deals out doctrine, primly steps 
From just that selfsame moon he maunders of. 
And, blood-thinned by his pallid nutriment, 
Proposes to rich earth-blood — purity ? 
In me, 't was equal-balanced flesh rebuked 
Excess alike in stuff-guts Glauketes 
Or starveling Chairephon ; I challenged both, — 


Strong understander of our common life, 
Staple sustainment of humanity . 
Whereas when your tragedian cries up Peace — 
He's silent as to cheesecake Peace may chew ; 
Seeing through rabble-rule, he shuts his eye 
To what were better done than crowding Pnux— 
Dancing ' Threttanelo, the Kuklops drunk ! ' 

" My power has hardly need to vaunt itself I 
Opposers peep and mutter, or speak plain : 
' No naming names in Comedy ! ' votes one, 
' Nor vilifying live folk ! ' legislates 
Another, ' urge amendment on the dead ! ' 
' Don't throw away hard cash,' supplies a third, 
' But crib from actor's dresses, choros-treats ! ' 
Then Kleon did his best to bully me : 
Called me before the Law Court : ' Such a play 
Satirized citizens with strangers there, 


Such other,' — why, its fault was in myself ! 

I was, this time, the stranger, privileged 

To act no play at all, — Egyptian, I — 

Rhodian or Kameirensian, Aiginete, 

Lindian, or any foreigner he liked — 

Because I can't write Attic, probably ! 

Go ask my rivals, — how they roughed my fleece, 

And how, shorn pink themselves, the huddled sheep 

Shiver at distance from the clapping shears ! 

Why must they needs provoke me ? 

" All the same, 
No matter for its triumph, I foretell 
Subsidence of the day-star : quench his beams? 
No Aias e'er was equal to the feat 
By throw of shield, tough-hided seven times seven, 
'Twixt sky and earth ! 'tis dullards soft and sure 
Who breathe against his brightest, here a sigh 


And there a ' So let be, we pardon you ! ' 
Till the minute mist hangs entire, has tamed 
Noonblaze to ' twilight mild and equable,' 
Vote the old women spinning out of doors. 
Give me the earth-spasm, when the lion ramped 
And the bull gendered in the brave gold flare ! 
O you shall have amusement, — better still, 
Instruction ! no more horse-play, naming names, 
Taxing the fanc}- when plain sense will serve ! 
Thearion, now, my friend who bakes you bread, 
What's worthier limning than his household life ? 
His whims and ways, his quarrels with the spouse, 
And how the son, instead of learning knead 
Kilikian loaves, brings heart-break on his sire 
By buying horseflesh branded Scxn, each flank, 
From shrewd Menippos who imports the ware : 
While pretty daughter Kepphe too much haunts 
The shop of Sporgilos the barber 1 brave ! 


Out with Thearion's meal-tub politics 

In lieu of Pisthetairos, Strepsiades ! 

That's your exchange ? O Muse of Megara ! 

Advise the fools ' Feed babe on weasel-lap 

For wild-boar'' s marrow, Cheiron's hero-pap. 

And rear, for man — Ariphrades, mayhap /' 

Yes, my Balaustion, yes, my Euthukles, 

That 's your exchange, — who, foreigners in fact 

And fancy, would impose your squeamishness 

On sturdy health, and substitute such brat 

For the right offspring of us Rocky Ones, 

Because babe kicks the cradle, — crows, not mewls ! 

" Which brings me to the prime fault, poison-speck 

Whence all the plague springs — that first feud of all 

'Twixt me and you and your Euripides. 

' Unworld the world ' frowns he, my opposite. 

I cry, ' Life ! ' ' Death,' he groans, ' our better Life ! ' 


Despise what is — the good and graspable, 

Prefer the out of sight and in at mind, 

To village-joy, the well-side violet-patch, 

The jolly club-feast when our field's in soak, 

Roast thnishes, haresoup, peasoup, deep washed down 

\Vith Peparethian ; the prompt paying off 

That black-eyed brown-skinned country-flavoured wench 

We caught among our brushwood foraging : 

On these look fig-juice, curdle up Hfe's cream, 

And fall to magnifying misery ! 

Or, if you condescend to happiness, 

Why, talk, talk, talk about the empty name 

While thing's self lies neglected 'neath your nose ! 

/ need particular discourtesy 

And private insult from Euripides 

To render contest with him credible ? 

Say, all of me is outraged ! one stretched sense, 

I represent the whole RcpubUc, — gods. 


Heroes, priests, legislators, poets, — prone, 
And pummelled into insignificance, 
If will in him were matched with power of stroke. 
For see what he has changed or hoped to change ! 
How few years since, when he began the fight. 
Did there beat life indeed Athenai through ! 
Plenty and peace, then ! Hellas thundersmote 
The Persian. He himself had birth, you say. 

That morn salvation broke at Salamis, 

And heroes still walked earth. Themistokles — 

Surely his mere back-stretch of hand could still 

Find, not so lost in dark, Odusseus? — he 

Holding as surely on to Herakles, — 

Who touched Zeus, link and link, the unruptured chain ! 

Were poets absent? Aischulos might hail — 

With Pindaros, Theognis, — whom for sire } 

Homeros' self, departed yesterday ! 

While Hellas, saved and sung to, then and thus, — 


Ah, people, — ah, lost antique liberty ! 

We lived, ourselves, undoubted lords of earth : 

Wherever olives flourish, corn yields crop 

To constitute our title — ours such land ! 

Outside of oil and breadstuff, — barbarism ! 

What need of conquest ? Let barbarians starve ! 

Devote our whole strength to our sole defence, 

Content with peerless native products, home, 

Beauty profuse in earth's mere sights and sounds, 

Such men, such women, and such gods their guard ! 

The gods? he worshij)ped best who feared them most. 

And left their nature unenquired into, 

— Nature ? their very names ! pay reverence, 

Do sacrifice for our part, theirs would be 

To j)rove benignantest of playfellows. 

With kindly humanism they countenanced 

Our emulation of divine escapes 

Through sense and soul : soul, sense are made to use ; 


Use each, acknowledging its god the while ! 

Crush grape, dance, drink, indulge, for Bacchos' sake ! 

'Tis Aphrodite's feast-day — frisk and fling, 

Provided we observe our oaths, and house 

Duly the stranger : Zeus takes umbrage else ! 

Ah, the great time — had I been there to taste ! 

Perikles, right Olympian, occupied 

As yet with getting an Olumpos reared 

Marble and gold above Akropolis, — 

Wisely so spends what thrifty fools amassed 

For cut-throat projects. Who carves Promachos? 

Who writes the Oresteia? 

"Ah, the time !' 
For, all at once, a cloud has blanched the blue, 
A cold wind creeps through the close vineyard-rank, 
The olive-leaves curl, violets crisp and close 
Like a nymph's wrinkling at the bath's first splash 


(Your pardon !) There's a restlessness, a change, 

Deterioration. Larks and nightingales 

Are silenced, here and there a gor-crow grim 

Flaps past, as scenting opportunity. 

Where Kimon passaged to the Boiile once, 

A starveling crew, unkempt, unshorn, unwashed. 

Occupy altar-base and temple-step, 

Are minded to indoctrinate our youth ! 

How call these carrion kill-joys that intrude ? 

' Wise men,' their nomenclature ! Prodikos — 

Who scarce could, unassisted, pick his steps 

From way Theseia to the Tripods' way, — 

This empty noddle comprehends the sun, — 

How he's Aigina's bigness, wheels no whit 

His way from east to west, nor wants a steed ! 

And here's Protagoras sets wrongheads right. 

Explains what virtue, vice, truth, falsehood mean. 

Makes all we seemed to know prove ignorance 


Yet knowledge also, since, on either side 

Of any question, something's straight to say. 

Nothing to 'stablish, all things to disturb ! 

And shall youth go and play at kottabos. 

Leaving unsettled whether moon-spots breed ? 

Or dare keep Choes ere the problem's solved — 

Why should I like my wife who dislikes me ? 

' But sure the gods permit this, censure that ? ' 

So tell them ! straight the answer 's in your teeth : 

' You relegate these points, then, to the gods ? 

What and where are they ? ' ' What my sire supposed, 

And where yon cloud conceals them !'...' Till they 

And scramble down to Leda, as a swan, 
Europa, as a bull ! why not as — ass 
To somebody ? Your sire was Zeus perhaps ! 
Either — away with such ineptitude ! 
Or, wanting energy to break your bonds. 


Stick to the good old stories, think the rain 

Is— Zeus distilling pickle through a sieve ! 

Think thunder 's thrown to break Theoros' head 

For breaking oaths first ! So you let ourselves 

Instruct your progeny what fools are you 

For fearing Zeus, who is the atmosphere, 

Brother Poseidon, otherwise called — sea. 

And son Hephaistos — fire and nothing else ! 

Over which nothings there's a something still, 

' Necessity,' that rules the uni\erse 

And cares as niuch about your Choes-feast 

Performed or intermitted, as you care 

Whether gnats sound their trump from head or tail ! ' 

When, stupefied at such philosophy, 

We cry ' Arrest the madmen, governor ! 

Pound hemlock and pour buU's-blood, Perikles ! ' 

Would you believe ? The Olympian bends his brow, 

Scarce pauses from his building ! ' Say they thus ? 


Then, they say wisely. Anaxagoras, 

I had not known how simple proves eclipse 

But for thy teaching ! Go, men, learn like me ! ' 

" ' Well, Zeus nods : man must reconcile himself, 

So, let the Charon's-company harangue, 

And Anaxagoras be — as we wish ! 

A comfort is in nature : while grass grows 

And water nms, and sesame pricks tongue, 

And honey from Brilesian hollow melts 

On mouth, and Bacchis' lip beats both, my boy, 

You will not be untaught life's use, young man ? ' 

Pho ! My young man just proves that panniered ass 

Said to have borne Youth strapped on his stout back, 

Who bargained with a serpent, let him swap 

The jjriceless boon for — water to quench thirst ! 

AVhat's youth to my young man ? Tn love with age, 

He Spartanizes, argues, fasts and prates, 


Denies the plainest rules of life, long since 
Proved sound ; sets all authority aside, 
Must simply recommence things, learn ere act, 
And think out thoroughly how youth should pass — 
Just as if youth stops passing, all the same ! 

" One last resource is left us — poetry ! 

' Vindicate nature, prove Plataian help, 

Turn out, a thousand strong, all right and tight, 

To save Sense, poet ! Bang the sophist-brood 

Would cheat man out of wholesome sustenance 

By swearing wine is water, honey — gall, 

Saperdion — the Empousa ! Panic-smit, 

Our juveniles abstain from Sense and starve. 

Be yours to disenchant them ! Change things back ! 

Or better, strain a point the other way 

And handsomely exaggerate wronged truth ! 

Lend wine a glory never gained from grape, 


Help honey with a snatch of him we style 
The Muses' Bee, bay-bloom-fed Sophokles, 
And give Saperdion a Kimberic robe ! ' 

" ' I, his successor,' gruff the answer grunts, 

' Inchne to poetize philosophy, 

Extend it rather than restrain ; as thus — 

Are heroes men ? No more, and scarce as much, 

Shall mine be represented. Are men poor ? 

Behold them ragged ! sick ? lame, halt and blind ! 

Do they use speech ? Ay, street-terms, market-phrase ! 

Having thus drawn sky earthwards, what comes next 

But dare the opposite, lift earth to sky? 

Mere puppets once, I now make womankind, 

For thinking, saying, doing, match the male. 

Lift earth? I drop to, dally with, earth's dung ! 

— Recognize in the very slave — man's mate, 

Declare him brave and honest, kind and true, 


And reasonable as his lord, in brief. 

" I paint men as they are " — so nins my boast — 

" Not as they should be : " paint— what's part of " man," 

— Women and slaves, — not as, to please your pride. 

They should be, but your equals, as they are. 

O and the Gods ! Instead of abject mien, 

Submissive whisper, while my Choros cants 

" Zeus, — with thy cubit's length of attributes, — 

May I, the ephemeral, ne'er scrutinize 

Who made the heaven and earth and all things there I " 

Myself shall say ' . . Ay, ' Herakles ' may help ! 

Give me, — I want the very words, — attend 1 " 

He read. Then — " Murder's out, — * There are no 

Man has no master, owtis, by consequence, 
No right, no wrong, except to please or plague 
His nature : what man likes be man's sole law ! 


Still, since he likes Saperdion, honey, figs, 
Man may reach freedom by your roundabout ! 
' Never believe yourselves the freer thence ! 
There are no gods, but there's ' Necessity,' — 
Duty enjoined you, fact in figment's place, 
Throned on no mountain, native to the mind ! 
Therefore deny yourselves Saperdion, figs, 
And honey, for the sake of — what I dream, 
A-sitting with my legs up ! ' 

" Infamy ! 
The poet casts in calm his lot with these 
Assailants of Apollon ! Sworn to serve 
Each Grace, the Furies call him minister — 
He, who was born for just that rosy world 
Renounced so madly, where what's false is fact, 
Where he makes beauty out of ugliness, 
Where he lives, life itself disguised for him 


As immortality — so works the spell, 
Enthusiastic mood which marks a man 
Muse-mad, dream-drunken, wTapt around by verse. 
Encircled still with j)oet-atmosphere, 
As lark emballed by its o\vn crystal song. 
Or rose enmisted by that scent it makes ! 
No, this were unreality ! the real 
He wants, not falsehood, — truth alone he seeks, 
Truth, for all beauty ! Beauty, in all truth — 
That's certain somehow ! Must the eagle lilt 
Lark-like, needs fir-tree blossom rose-like ? No ! 
Strength and utility charm more than grace, 
And what's most ugly proves most beautiful. 
So much assistance from Euripides ! 

" Whereupon I betake me, since needs must, 

To a concluding ' Go and feed the crows ! 

Do ! Spoil your art as you renounce your life, 



Poetize your so precious system, do, 
Degrade the hero, nulHfy the god, 
Exhibit women, slaves and men as peers, — 
Your castigation follows prompt enough ! 
When all's concocted upstairs, heels o'er-head, 
Down must submissive drop the masterpiece 
For pubUc praise or blame : so, praise away. 
Friend Socrates, wife's-friend Kephisophon ! 
Boast innovations, cramp phrase, uncouth song, 
Hard matter and harsh manner, gods, men, slaves 
And women jumbled to a laughing-stock 
Which Hellas shall hold sides at lest she split ! 
Hellas, on these, shall have her word to say I ' 

" She has it and she says it — there's the curse ! — 
She finds he makes the shag-rag hero-race. 
The noble slaves, wise women, move as much 
Pity and terror as true tragic types : 


Applauds inventiveness — the plot so new, 

The turn and trick subsidiary so strange ! 

She reHshes that homely phrase of life, 

That common town-talk, more than trumpet-blasts ; 

Accords him right to chop and change a myth ; 

' What better right had he, who told the tale 

In the first instance, to embellish fact? 

This bard may disembellish yet improve ! 

Both find a block: this man carves back to bull 

A\Tiat first his predecessor cut to sphynx : 

Such genuine actual roarer, nature's brute. 

Intelligible to our time, was sure 

The old-world artist's purpose, had he worked 

To mind ; this artist means and makes the thing ! 

Then, past dispute, the verse slips oily-bathed 

In unctuous music : say, effeminate — 

You also say, like Kuthereia's self, 

A lullinfT effluence which enswathes some isle 


Where hides a nymph, not seen but felt the more.' 
That's Hellas' verdict ! 

" Does Euripides 
Even so far absolved, remain content ? 
Nowise ! His task is to refine, refine, 
Divide, distinguish, subtilize away 
Whatever seemed a solid planting-place 
For foot-fall, — not in that phantasmal sphere 
Proper to poet, but on vulgar earth 
Where people used to tread with confidence. 
There's left no longer one plain positive 
Enunciation incontestable 
Of what's good, right and decent here on earth. 
Nobody now can say ' this plot is mine, 
Though but a plethron square, — my duty I ' — 'Yours? 
Mine, or at least not yours,' snaps somebody ! 
And, whether the dispute be parent-right 


Or children's service, husband's i)rivilege 

Or wife's submission, there's a snarUng straight, 

Smart passage of opposing ' yea ' and ' nay,' 

' Should,' ' should not,' till, howe'er the contest end, 

Spectators go off sighing ' Clever thrust ! 

\\'hy was I so much hurried to pay debt, 

Attend my mother, sacrifice an ox, 

And set my name down ' for a trireme, good ? ' 

Something I might have urged on t'other side ! 

No doubt, Chresphontes or Bellerophon 

We don't meet ever)- day ; but Stab-and-stitch 

The tailor — ere I turn the drachmas o'er 

I owe him for a chiton, as he thinks, 

I'll pose the blockhead with an argument ! ' 

So has he triumphed, your Euripides ! 
Oh, I concede, he rarely gained a prize : 
That's quite another matter ! cause for that ! 


Still, when 'tAvas got by Ions, lophons, 

Off he would pace confoundedly superb, 

Supreme, no smile at movement on his mouth 

Till Sokrates winked, whispered : out it broke ! 

And Aristullos jotted down the jest. 

While lophons or Ions, bay on brow. 

Looked queerly, and the foreigners — like you — 

Asked o'er the border with a puzzled smile 

— ' And so, you value Ions, lophons, 

Euphorions ! How about Euripides ? ' 

(Eh, brave bard's-champion ? Does the anger boil ? 

Keep within bounds a moment, — eye and lip 

Shall loose their doom on me, their fiery worst !) 

\Vhat strangers ? Archelaos heads the file ! 

He sympathizes, he concerns himself, 

He pens epistle, each successless play : 

' Athenai sinks effete ; there's younger blood 

In Makedonia. Visit where I rule ! 


Do lionor to me and take gratitude ! 

Live the guest's life, or work the poet's way, 

Which also means the statesman's : he who wrote 

* Erechtheus ' may be rawly politic 

At home where Kleophon is ripe ; but here 

My council-board permits him choice of seats.' 

' Now, this was operating, — what should prove 
A poison-tree, had flowered far on to fruit 
For many a year,— when I was moved, first man, 
To dare the adventure, down with root and branch. 
So, from its sheath I drew my Comic steel, 
And dared what I am now to justify. 
A serious question first, though 1 

" Once again ! 
Do you believe, when I aspired in youth, 
I made no estimate of power at all, 


Nor paused long, nor considered much, what class 

Of fighters I might claim to join, beside 

That class wherewith I cast in company ? 

Say, you — profuse of praise no less than blame — 

Could not 1 have competed — franker phrase 

Might trulier correspond to meaning — still. 

Competed with your Tragic paragon ? 

Suppose me minded simply to make verse, 

To fabricate, parade resplendent arms, 

Flourish and sparkle out a Trilogy, — 

Where was the hindrance ? But my soul bade ' Fight ! 

Leave flourishing for mock-foe, pleasure-time ; 

Prove arms efficient on real heads and hearts ! ' 

How? With degeneracy sapping fast 

The Marathonian muscle, nerved of old 

To maul the Mede, now stnmg at best to help 

— How did I fable ? — War and Hubbub mash 

To mincemeat Fatherland and Brotherhood, 


Pound in their mortar Hellas, State by State, 

Tliat greed might gorge, the while frivolity 

Rubbed hands and smacked lips o'er the dainty dish ! 

Authority, experience — pushed aside 

By any upstart pleading throng and press 

0' the people ! ' Think, say, do thus ! ' Wherefore, 

pray ? 
' We are the peoi:)le : who impugns our right 
Of choosing Kleon that tans hide so well, 
Huperbolos that turns out lamps so trim, 
Hemp-seller Eukrates or Lusikles 
Sheep-dealer, Kephalos the potter's son, 
Diitriphes who weaves the willow-work 
To go round bottles, and Nausikudes 
The meal-man ? Such wc choose and more, tlieir mates. 
To think and say and do in our behalf ! ' 
While sophistry wagged tongue, emboldened still, 
Found matter to propose, contest, defend, 


'Stablish, turn topsyturvy, — all the same, 
No matter what, provided the result 
Were something new in place of something old, — 
Set wagging by pure insolence of soul 
Which needs must pry into, have warrant for 
Each right, each privilege good policy 
Protects from curious eye and prating mouth ! 
Everywhere lust to shape the world anew, 
Spurn this Athenai as we find her, build 
A new impossible Cloudcuckooburg 
For feather-headed birds, once solid men. 
Where rules, discarding jolly habitude, 
Nourished on myrtle-berries and stray ants, 
King Tereus who, turned Hoopoe Triple-Crest, 
Shall terrify and bring the gods to terms ! 

' Where was I ? Oh ! Things ailing thus — I ask. 
What cure ? Cut, thrust, hack, hew at heap-on-heaped 


Abomination with the exquisite 

Palaistra-tool of poHshed Tragedy ? 

' Erechtheus ' shall harangue Amphiktuon, 

And incidentally drop word of weight 

On justice, righteousness, so turn aside 

The audience from attacking Sicily ! — 

The more that Choros, after he recounts 

How Phrixos rode the ram, the f:\r-fiu-ned Fleece, 

Shall add — at last fall of grave dancing-foot — 

' Aggression never yet was helped by Zeus ! ' 

That helps or hinders Alkibiades ? 

As well expect, should Pheidias carve Zeus' self 

And set him up, some half a mile away, 

His frown would frighten sparrows from your field ! 

Eagles may recognize their lord, belike, 

But as for vulgar sparrows, — change the god, 

And plant some big Priapos with a pole ! 

/ I wield the Comic weapon rather — hate ! 


Hate ! honest, earnest, and directest hate — 

Warfare wherein I close with enemy, 

Call him one name and fifty epithets. 

Remind you his great-grandfather sold bran, 

Describe the new exomion, sleeveless coat 

He knocked me down last night and robbed me of, 

Protest he voted for a tax on air ! 

And all this hate — if I write Comedy — 

With tolerance, most like— applause, perhaps 

True veneration ; for I praise the god 

Present in person of his minister, 

And pay — the wilder my extravagance — 

The more appropriate worship to the Power 

Adulterous, night-roaming, and the rest : 

Otherwise, — that originative force 

Of nature, impulse stirring death to life. 

Which, underlying law, seems lawlessness, 

Yet is the outbreak which, ere order be. 


Must thrill creation through, warm stocks and stones, 
Phales lacchos. 

" Comedy for me ! 
Why not for you, my Tragic masters ? Sneaks 
Whose art is mere desertion of a trust ! 
Such weapons lay to hand, the ready club, 
The clay-ball, on the ground a stone to snatch, — 
Arms fit to bruise the boar's neck, break the chine 
O' the wolf, — and you must impiously— despise ? 
No, I'll say, furtively let fell that trust 
Consigned you ! 'Twas not ' take or leave alone,' 
But ' take and, wielding, recognize your god 
In his prime attributes ! ' And though full soon 
You sneaked, subsided into poetry, 
Nor met your due reward, still, — heroize 
And speechify and sing-song and forego 
Far as you may your function, — still its pact 


Endures, one piece of early homage still 
Exacted of you ; after your three bouts 
At hoitytoity, great men with long words, 
And so forth, — at the end, must tack itself 
The genuine sample, the Satyric Play, 
Concession, with its wood-boys' fun and freak, 
To the true taste of the mere multitude. 
Yet, there again ! What does your Still-at-itch, 
Always-the-innovator ? Shrugs and shirks ! 
Out of his fifty Trilogies, some five 
Are somehow suited : Satyrs dance and sing, 
Try merriment, a grimly prank or two, 
Sour joke squeezed through pursed lips and teeth on edge, 
Then quick on top of toe to pastoral sport, 
Goat-tending and sheep-herding, cheese and cream, 
Soft grass and silver rillets, country-fare — 
When throats were promised Thasian ! Five such 
feats, — 


Then frankly off he threw the yoke : next Droll, 

Next festive drama, covenanted fun, 

Decent reversion to indecency, 

Proved — your ' Alkestis ! ' There's quite fun enough, 

Herakles dnnik 1 From out fote's blackening wave 

Calamitous, just zigzags some shot star. 

Poor promise of faint joy, and turns the laugh 

On dupes whose fears and tears were all in waste ! 

" For which sufficient reasons, in truth's name, 
I closed with whom you coimt the Meaner Muse. 
Classed me with Comic Poets who should weld 
Dark with bright metal, show their blade may keep 
Its adamantine birthright though a-blaze 
Witli poetry, the gold, and wit, the gem, 
And strike mere gold, unstiffened out by steel. 
Gem, no rough iron joints its strength around, 
From hand of — posturer, not combatant ! 


" Such was my purpose : it succeeds, I say ! 

Have not we beaten Kallikratidas, 

Not humbled Sparte ? Peace awaits our word, 

In spite of Theramenes, and his Hke. 

Since my previsions, — warranted too well 

By the long war now waged and worn to end — 

Had spared such heritage of misery, 

My after-counsels scarce need fear repulse. 

Athenai, taught prosperity has wings, 

Cages the glad recapture. Demos, see, 

From folly's premature decrepitude 

Boiled young again, emerges from the stew 

Of twenty-five years' trouble, sits and sways, 

One brilliance and one balsam, — sways and sits 

Monarch of Hellas ! ay and, sage again, 

No longer jeopardizes chieftainship, 

No longer loves the brutish demagogue 

Appointed by a bestial multitude, 


But seeks out sound advisers. Who are tliey ? 

Ourselves, of parentage proved wise and good ! 

To such may hap strains thwarting quahty, 

(As where shall want its flaw mere human stuff?) 

Still, the right grain is proper to right race ; 

^^'hat's contrary, call curious accident ! 

Hold by the usual ! Orchard-grafted tree, 

Not wilding, race-horse-sired, not rouncey-born, 

Aristocrat, no sausage-selling snob ! 

Nay, why not Alkibiades, come back 

Filled by the Genius, freed of petulance. 

Frailty, — say, youthfulness that's all at fault, — 

Renewed to Perikles and something more ? 

— Being at least our duly born and bred, — 

Curse on what chaunoprockt first gained his ear 

And got his . . . well, once true man in right place. 

Our commonalty soon content themselves 

With doing just what they are born to do, 



Eat, drink, make merry, mind their own affairs 

And leave state-business to the larger brain ! 

I do not stickle for their punishment ; 

But certain culprits have a cloak to twitch, 

A purse to pay the piper : flog, say I, 

Your fine fantastics, paragons of parts, 

Who choose to play the important ! Far from side 

With us, their natural supports, allies, — 

And, best by brain, help who are best by birth 

To fortify each weak point in the wall 

Built broad and wide and deep for permanence 

Between what's high and low, what's rare and vile,— 

They cast their lot perversely in with low 

And vile, lay flat the barrier, lift the mob 

To dizzy heights where Privilege stood firm. 

And then, simplicity become conceit, — 

Woman, slave, common soldier, artisan, 

Crazy with new-found worth, new-fangled claims, — 


These must be taught next how to use their lieads 
And hands in driving man's right to mob's rule ! 
What fellows thus inflame the multitude? 
Your Sokrates, still crying ' Understand ! ' 
Your AristuUos, — ' Argiie ! ' Last and worst, 
Should, by good fortune, mob still hesitate, 
Remember there's degree in heaven and earth, 
Cry ' Aischulos enjoined us fear the gods, 
And Sophokles advised respect the kings ! ' 
Why, your Euripides informs them — Gods ? 
They are not ! Kings ? They are, but ... do not I, 
In ' Suppliants,' make my Theseus, — yours, no 

more, — 
Fire up at insult of who styles him King ? 
Play off that Herald, I despise the most, 
As patronizing kings' prerogative 
Against a Theseus proud to dare no step 
Till he consult the people ? 

L 2 


" Such as these — 
Ah, you expect I am for strangling straight ? 
Nowise, Balaustion ! All my roundabout 
Ends at beginning, with my own defence ! 
I dose each culprit just with — Comedy. 
Let each be doctored in exact the mode 
Himself prescribes : by words, the word-monger — 
INIy words to his words, — my lies, if you like, 
To his lies. Sokrates I nickname thief. 
Quack, necromancer ; AristuUos, — say, 
Male Kirke who bewitches and bewrays 
And changes folk to swine ; Euripides, — 
Well, I acknowledge ! Every word is false, 
Looked close at ; but stand distant and stare through, 
All's absolute indubitable truth 
Behind lies, truth which only lies declare ! 
For come, concede me truth's in thing not word, 
Meaning not manner ! Love smiles 'rogue' and 'wretch' 


When ' sweet ' and ' dear ' seem vapid ; Hate adopts 
Love's 'sweet' and 'dear,' when 'rogue ' and ' wretch ' 

fall flat ; 
Love, Hate — are truths, then, each, in sense not sound. 
Further : if Love, remaining Love, fell back 
On ' sweet ' and ' dear,' — if Hate, though Hate the same, 
Dro])ped down to ' rogue ' and ' wretch,' — each phrase 

were false. 
(Jood ! and now grant I hate no matter whom 
With reason : I must therefore fight my foe, 
Finish the mischief which made enmity. 
How ? By emplo}ing means to most hurt him 
\Vho much harmed me. AMiat way did he do harm ? 
Through word or deed ? Through word ? with word, 

wage war ! 
\\'ord with myself directly ? As direct 
Reply shall follow : word to you, the wise. 
Whence indirectly came the harm to me ? 


What wisdom I can muster waits on such ! 

Word to the populace which, misconceived 

By ignorance and incapacity, 

Ends in no such effect as follows cause 

When I, or you the wise, are reasoned with, 

So damages what I and you hold dear ? 

In that event, I ply the populace 

With just such word as leavens their whole lump 

To the right ferment for my purpose. They 

Arbitrate properly between us both ? 

They weigh my answer with his argument, 

Match quip with quibble, wit mth eloquence ? 

All they attain to understand is — blank 1 

Two adversaries differ ! which is right 

And which is wrong, none takes on him to say, 

Since both are unintelligible. Pooh ! 

Swear my foe's mother vended herbs she stole. 

They fall a-laughing ! Add, — his household drudge 



Of all-work justifies that office well, 

Kisses the wife, composing him the play, — 

They grin at whom they" gaped in wonderment, 

And go off—' Was he such a sorry scrub ? 

This other seems to know ! we praised too fast ! ' 

Why then, my lies have done the work of truth, 

Since ' scrub,' improper designation, means 

Exactly what the proper argument 

—Had such been comprehensible— proposed 

To proper audience — were I graced with such — 

Would properly result in ; so your friend 

Gets an impartial verdict on his verse 

' The tongue swears, but the soul remains unsworn ! ' 

" There, my Balaustion ! All is summed and said. 
No other cause of quarrel with yourself ! 
Euripides and Aristophanes 
Differ : he needs must round our diflference 


Into the mob's ear ; with the mob I plead. 

You angrily start forward ' This to me ? ' 

No speck of this on you the thrice refined ! 

Could parley be restricted to us two, 

My first of duties were to clear up doubt 

As to our true divergence each from each. 

Does my opinion so diverge from yours ? 

Probably less than little — not at all ! 

To know a matter, for my very self 

And intimates — that's one thing ; to imply 

By ' knowledge ' — loosing whatsoe'er I know 

Among the vulgar who, by mere mistake, 

May brain themselves and me in consequence, — 

That's quite another. * O the daring flight ! 

This only bard maintains the exalted brow, 

Nor grovels in the slime nor fears the gods ! ' 

Did /fear — /play superstitious fool. 

Who, with the due proviso, introduced, 


Active and passive, their whole company 
As creatures too absurd for scorn itself? 
Zeus? I have styled him— 'slave, mere thrashing- 
block ! ' 
I'll tell you : in my very next of plays, 
At Bacchos' feast, in Bacchos' honor, full 
1 n front of Bacchos' representative, 
I mean to make main-actor — Bacchos' self ! 
Forth shall he strut, apparent, first to last, 
A blockhead, coward, braggart, liar, thief. 
Demonstrated all these by his own niere 
Xanthias the man-slave : such man shows such god 
Shamed to bmte-beastship by comparison ! 
And when ears have their fill of his abuse, 
And eyes are sated with his pummeling, — 
My Choros taking care, by, all the while 
Singing his glor}-, that men recognize 
A god in the abused and pummeled beast, — 



Then, should one ear be stopped of auditor, 

Should one spectator shut revolted eye, — • 

Why, the Priest's self will first raise outraged voice 

' Back, thou barbarian, thou ineptitude ! 

Does not most license hallow best our day, 

And least decorum prove its strictest rite ? 

Since Bacchos bids his followers play the fool. 

And there's no fooling like a majesty 

Mocked at, — who mocks the god, obeys the law — 

Law which, impute but indiscretion to, 

And . , . why, the spirit of Euripides 

Is evidently active in the world ! ' 

Do I stop here? No ! feat of flightier force ! 

See Hermes ! what commotion raged, — reflect ! — 

When imaged god alone got injury 

By dnmkards' frolic ! How Athenai stared 

Aghast, then fell to frenzy, fit on fit, — 

Ever the last, the longest ! At this hour, 


The craze abates a little ; so, my Play 

Shall have up Hermes : and a Karion, slave, 

(Since there's no getting lower) calls our friend 

The profitable god, we honour so, 

Whatever contumely fouls the mouth — 

Bids him go earn more honest livelihood 

l]y washing tripe in well-trough — wash he does, 

Duly obedient ! Have I dared my best ? 

Asklepios, answer ! — deity in vogue, 

\\'ho visits Sophokles familiarly, 

If you believe the old man, — at his age, 

Living is dreaming, and strange guests haunt door 

Of house, belike, peep through and tap at times 

When a friend yawns there, waiting to be fetched, — 

At any rate, to memorize the fact. 

He has spent money, set an altar up 

In the god's temple, now in much repute. 

That temple-service trust me to describe — 


Cheaters and choused, the god, his brace of girls, 
Their snake, and how they manage to snap gifts 
' And consecrate the same into a bag,' 
For whimsies done away with in the dark ! 
As if, a stone's throw from that theatre 
Whereon I thus unmask their dupery, 
The thing were not rehgious and august ! 

" Of Sophokles himself— nor word nor sign 

Beyond a harmless parody or so ! 

He founds no anti-school, upsets no faith, 

But, living, lets live, the good easy soul 

Who, — if he saves his cash, unpoetlike. 

Loves wine and — never mind what other sport. 

Boasts for his father just a sword-blade-smith, 

Proves but queer captain when the people claim, 

For one who conquered with ' Antigone,' 

The right to undertake a squadron's charge, — 


And needs die son's help now to finisli plays, 
Seeing his dotage calls for governance 
And loplion to share his property, — 
AVhy, of all this, reported true, I breathe 
Not one word — true or false, I like the man ! 
Sophokles lives, and lets live : long live he ! 
Otherwise, — sharp the scourge and hard the blow ! 

" And what's my teaching but — accept the old, 
Contest the strange ! acknowledge work that's done, 
Misdoubt men who have still their work to do ! 
Religions, laws and customs, poetries. 
Are old ? So much achieved victorious truth ! 
Each work was product of a life-time, wnmg 
From each man by an adverse world : for why ? 
He worked, destroying other older work 
Which the world loved and so was loth to lose. 
Whom the world beat in battle — dust and ash ! 


Who beat the world, left work in evidence, 

And wears its crown till new men live new lives. 

And fight new fights, and triumph in their turn. 

I mean to show you on the stage ! you'll see 

My Just Judge only venture to decide 

Between two suitors, which is god, which man, 

By thrashing both of them as flesh can bear. 

You shall agree, — whichever bellows first, 

He's human \ who holds longest out, divine : 

That is the only equitable test ! 

Cruelty ? Pray, who pricked them on to court 

My thong's award ? Must they needs dominate ? 

Then I — rebel ! Their instinct grasps the new ? 

Mine bids retain the old : a fight must be, 

And which is stronger the event will show. 

O but the pain ! Your proved divinity 

Still smarts all reddened ? And the rightlier served ! 

Was not some man's-flesh in him, after all ? 


Do let us lack no frank acknowledgment 

There's nature common to both gods and men ! 

All of them — si)irit ? \\'hat so winced was clay ! 

Away pretence to some exclusive sphere 

Cloud-nourishing a sole selected few 

Fume-fed with self-superiority ! 

I stand up for the common coarse-as-clay 

Existence, — stamp and ramp with heel and hoof 

On solid vulgar life, you fools disown ! 

Make haste from your unreal eminence, 

And measure lengths with me upon that ground 

Whence this mud-pellet sings and summons you ! 

I know the soul, too, how the spark ascends 

And how it drops apace and dies away. 

I am your poet-peer, man thrice your match ! 

I too am lead an airy life w^hen dead. 

Fly like Kinesias when I'm cloud-ward bound ; 

But here, no death shall mix with life it mars ! 


" So, my old enemy who caused the fight, 

Own I have beaten you, Euripides ! 

Or, — if your advocate would contravene, — 

Help him, Balaustion ! Use the rosy strength ! 

I have not done my utmost, — treated you 

As I might Aristullos, mint-perfi,mied, — 

Still, let the whole rage burst in brave attack ! 

Don't pay the poor ambiguous compliment 

Of fearing any pearl-white knuckled fist 

Will damage this broad buttress of a brow ! 

Fancy yourself my Aristonumos, 

Ameipsias or Sannurion : punch and pound ! 

Three cuckoos who cry ' cuckoo ' ! much I care ! 

They boil a stone ! Neblaretai ! Haflei f" 

Cannot your task have end here, Euthukles ? 
Day by day glides our galley on its path : 


Still sunrise and still sunset, Rhodes half-reached, 

And still, my patient scribe I no sunset's peace 

Descends more punctual than that brow's incline 

O'er tablets which your serviceable hand 

Prepares to trace. Why treasure up, forsooth, 

These relics of a night that left me rich. 

But, in remembrance merely, makes less poor 

None, stranger to Athenai and her past ? 

For — how remembered ! As some greedy hind 

Persuades a honeycomb, beyond the due, 

To yield its hoarding, — heedless what alloy 

Of the poor bee's own substance taints the gold 

Wliich, unforced, yields few drops, but purity, — 

So would you fain relieve of load this brain. 

Though the hived thoughts must bring away, with strength. 

What words and weakness, strength's receptacle — 

Wax from the store ! Yet, — aching soothed away, — 

Accept the compound ! No suspected scent 



But proves some rose was rifled, though its ghost 
Scarce Hngers with what promised musk and myrrh. 
No need of farther squeezing ! What remains 
Can only be Balaustion, just her speech ! 

Ah, but — because speech serves a purpose still ! — 

He ended with that flourish. I replied, 

Fancy myself your Aristonumos ? 

Advise me, rather, to remain myself, 

Balaustion, — mindful what mere mouse confronts 

The forest-monarch Aristophanes ! 

I who, a woman, claim no cjuality 

Beside the love of all things loveable 

Created by that power pre-eminent 

In knowledge, as in love I stand perchance, 


— You, the consummately-creative ! How 

Should I, then, dare deny submissive trust 

To any process aiming at result 

Such as you say your songs are pregnant with? 

Result, all judge : means, let none scrutinize 

Save those aware how glory best is gained 

By daring means to end, ashamed of shame, 

Constant in faith that only good works good, 

While evil yields no fruit but impotence ! 

Graced with such plain good, I accept the means ! 

Nay, if result itself in turn become 

Means, — who shall say ? — to ends still loftier yet, — 

Though still the good ])rove hard to understand, 

The bad still seemingly predominate, — 

Never may I forget which order bears 

The burden, toils to win the great reward, 

And finds, in failure, the grave punishment, 

So, meantime, claims of me a fliith I yield ! 

M 2 


Moreover, a mere woman, I recoil 

From what may prove man's-work permissible, 

Imperative. Rough strokes surprise : what then ? 

Some lusty armsweep needs must cause the crash 

Of thorn and bramble ere those shrubs, those flowers, 

We fain would have earth yield exclusi\-ely. 

Are sown, matured, are garlanded for boys 

And girls, who know not how the growth was gained, 

Finall)', am I not a foreigner ? 

No born and bred Athenian, — isled about, 

I scarce can drink, like you, at every breath, 

Just some particular doctrine which may best 

Explain the strange thing I revolt against — 

How — by involvement, who may extricate ? — 

Religion perks up through impiety, 

Law leers with licence, folly wise-like frowns, 

The seemly lurks inside the abominable. 

But opposites, — each neutralizes each 


Ilaply by mixture : what sliould promise death, 

May haply give the good ingredient force, 

Disperse in fume the antagonistic ill. 

This institution, therefore, — Comedy, — 

By origin, a rite ; by exercise. 

Proved an achievement tasking poet's power 

'1 o utmost, eking legislation out 

Ikyond the legislator's faculty. 

Playing the censor where the moralist 

Declines his function, fiir too dignified 

For dealing with minute absurdities ; 

P>y efiicacy, — virtue's guard, the scourge 

( )f vice, eacli folly's fly-flap, arm in aid 

Of all that's righteous, customary, sound 

And wholesome ; sanctioned tliereforc, — better say, 

Prescribed for fit acceptance of this age 

P>y, not alone the long recorded roll 

Of earlier triumphs but, success to-day — 


{The multitude as prompt recipient still 
Of good gay teaching from that monitor 
They crowned this morning — Aristophanes — 
As when Sousarion's car first traversed street) — 
This product of Athenai — / dispute, 
Impugn? Tliere's just one only circumstance 
Explains that ! I, poor critic, see, hear, feel ; 
But eyes, ears, senses prove me — foreigner ! 
Who shall gainsay that the raw new-come guest 
Blames oft, too sensitive ? On every side 
Of — larger than your stage — life's spectacle, 
Convention here permits and there forbids 
Impulse and action, nor alleges more 
Than some mysterious ' So do all, and so 
Does no one : ' which the hasty stranger blames 
Because, who bends the head unquestioning. 
Transgresses, turns to wrong what else were right. 
By failure of a reference to law 


Beyond convention; blames unjustly, too — 

As if, through that defect, all gained were lost 

And slave-brand set on brow indelibly ; — 

Blames unobservant or experienceless 

That men, like trees, if stout and sound and -sane. 

Show stem no more affected at the root 

By bough's exceptional submissive dip 

Of leaf and bell, light danced at end of spray 

To windy fitfulness in wayward sport, — 

No more lie prostrate, — than low files of flower 

Which, when the blast goes by, unruffled raise 

Each head again o'er ruder meadow-wreck 

Of thorn and thistle that refractory 

Demurred to cower at passing wind's caprice. 

Why shall not guest extend like charity, 

Conceive ho\v, — even when astounded most 

That natives seem to acquiesce in muck 

Changed by prescription, they affirm, to gold,— 


Such may still bring to test, still bear away 

Safely and surely much of good and true 

Though latent ore, themselves unspecked, unspoiled? 

Fresh bathed i' the icebrook, any hand may pass 

A placid moment through the lamp's fierce flame : 

And who has read your ' Lemnians,' seen ' The Hours,' 

Heard ' Female-Playhouse-seat-Preoccupants,' 

May feel no worse effect than, once a year, 

Those who leave decent vesture, dress in rags 

And play the mendicant, conform thereby 

To country's rite, and then, no beggar-taint 

Retained, don vesture due next morrow-day. 

What if I share the stranger's weakness then ? 

Well, should I also show his strength, his sense 

Untutored, ay I — but then untampered with ! 

I fancy, though the world seems old enough. 
Though Hellas be the sole unbarbarous land, 


Years may conduct to such extreme of age, 

And outside Hellas such new isles may lurk, 

That haply,— when and where remain a dream ! — 

In fresh days when no Hellas fills the world, 

In novel lands as strange where, all the same, 

'I'heir men and women yet behold, as we. 

Blue heaven, black earth, and love, hate, hope and fear. 

Over again, unhelped by Attikd — 

Haply some philanthropic god steers bark. 

Gift-laden, to the lonely ignorance 

Islanded, say, where mist and snow mass hard 

To metal — ay, those Kassiterides ! 

Then asks : ' Ye apprehend the human form. 

What of this statue, made to Pheidias' mind. 

This picture, as it pleased our Zeuxis paint ? 

Ye too feel truth, love beauty : judge of these ! ' 

Such strangers may judge feebly, stranger-like : 

' Each hair too indistinct — for, see our own 1 


Hands, not skin-coloured as these hands we have, 

And lo, the want of due decorum here ! 

A citizen, arrayed in civic garb, 

Just as he walked your streets apparently, 

Yet wears no sword by side, adventures thus, 

In thronged Athenai ! foolish painter' s-freak ! 

While here's his brother-sculptor found at fault 

Still more egregiously, who shames the world. 

Shows wrestler, wrestling at the public games. 

Atrociously exposed from head to foot ! ' 

Sure, the Immortal would impart at once 

Our slow-stored knowledge, how small truths suppressed 

Conduce to the far greater truth's display, — 

Would replace simple by instructed sense, 

And teach them how Athenai first so tamed 

The natural fierceness that her progeny 

Discarded arms nor feared the beast in man : 

Wherefore at games, where earth's wise gi-atitude, 


Proved by responsive culture, claimed the prize 
For man's mind, body, each in excellence, — 
When mind had bared itself, came body's turn, 
And only irreligion grudged the gods 
One naked glory of their master-work 
Where all is glorious rightly understood, — 
The human frame ; enough that man mistakes : 
Let him not think the gods mistaken too ! " 

But, peradventurc, if the stranger's eye 
Detected . . . Ah, too high my fancy-flight ! 
Pheidias, forgive, and Zeuxis bear with me — ■ 
How on your faultless should I fasten fault 
Of my own framing, even ? Only say, — 
Suppose the impossible were realized, 
And some as patent incongruity. 
Unseemliness, — of no more warrant, there 
And then, than now and here, whate'er the time 


And place, — I say, the Immortal, — who can doubt ? — 
Would never shrink, but own ' The blot escaped 
Our artist : thus he shows humanity ! ' 

" May stranger tax one peccant part in thee, 
Poet, three-parts divine ? May I proceed ? 

" ' Comedy is prescription and a rite.' 

Since when? No growth of the blind antique time, 

' It rose in Attike with liberty ; 

When freedom falls, it too will fall.' Scarce so ! 

Your games, — the Olympian, Zeus gave birth to these ; 

Your Pythian, — these were Phoibos' institute. 

Isthmian, Nemeian, — Theseus, Herakles 

Appointed each, the boys and barbers say ! 

Earth's day is growing late : where's Comedy ? 

' Oh, that commenced, an age since, — two, belike, — 

In Megara, whence here they brought the thing I' 


Or I misunderstand, or here's the fact — 

Your grandsire could recall that rustic song, 

How suchanone was thief, and miser such, 

And how, — immunity from chastisement 

Once promised to bold singers of the same 

By daylight on the drunkard's holiday, — 

The clever fellow of the joyous troop 

Tried acting what before he sang about, 

Acted and stole, or hoarded, acting too : 

While his companions ranged a-row, closed up 

For Choros, — bade the general rabblement 

Sit, see, hear, laugh, — not join the dance themselves. 

Soon, the same clever fellow found a mate. 

And these two did the whole stage-mimicking. 

Still closer in approach to Tragedy, — 

So led the way to Aristophanes, 

^Vhose grandsire saw Sousarion, and whose sire — 

Chionides ; yourself wrote ' Banqueters ' 


When Aischnlos had made ' Promedieus,' nay, 

All of the marvels ; Sophokles, — I'll cite, 

' Oidipous ' — and Euripides — I bend 

The head — ' Medeia' henceforth awed the world ! 

' Banqueters ' ' Babylonians' — next come you ! 

Surely the great days that left Hellas free 

Happened before such advent of huge help, 

Eighty-years-late assistance ? Marathon, 

Plataia, Salamis were fought, I think. 

Before new educators stood reproved, 

Or foreign legates blushed, excepted to ! 

Where did the helpful rite pretend its rise ? 

Did it break forth, as gifts divine are wont, 

Plainly authentic, incontestably 

Adequate to the helpful ordinance ? 

Founts, dowered with virtue, pulse out pure from source ; 

Tis there we taste the god's benign intent : 

Not when, — fatigued away by journey, foul 


With bnitish trampling, — crystal sinks to slime, 

And lymph forgets the first salubriousness. 

Sprang Comedy to light thus crystal-pure ? 

' Nowise ! ' yourself protest with vehemence ; 

'Gross, bestial, did the clowns ' diversion break ; 

Every successor paddled in the slush ; 

Nay, my contemporaries one and all 

Gay played the mudlark till I joined their game ; 

Then was I first to change buffoonery 

For wit, and stupid filth for cleanly sense, 

Transforming pointless joke to purpose fine, 

Transfusing rude enforcement of home-law — 

"Drop knave's-tricks, deal more neighbour- like, ye 

boors ! " — 
With such new glory of poetic breath 
As, lifting application flir past use 
O' the present, launched it o'er men's lowly heads 
To future time, when high and low alike 


Are dead and done with, while my airy power 

Fhes disengaged, as vapour from what stuff 

It — say not, dwelt — but fitlier, dallied with 

To forward work, which done, — deliverance brave, — 

It soars away, and mud subsides to dust. 

Say then, myself invented Comedy ! ' 

So mouths full many a famed Parabasis ! 

Agreed ! No more, then, of prescriptive use. 

Authorization by antiquity, 

For what offends our judgment ! 'Tis your work, 

Performed your way : not work delivered you 

Intact, intact producible in turn. 

Everywhere have you altered old to new — 

Your will, your warrant : therefore, work must stand 

Or stumble by intrinsic worth. What worth ? 

Its aim and object ! Peace, you advocate. 

And war would fain abolish from the land : 


Support religion, lash irreverence, 

Yet laughingly administer rebuke 

To superstitious folly, — equal fault ! 

While innovating rashness, lust of change, 

New laws, new habits, manners, men and things. 

Make your main quarry, — " oldest " meanmg 

You check the fretful litigation-itch, 
Withstand mob-rale, expose mob-flattery, 
Punish mob-favorites ; most of all press hard 
On sophists who assist the demagogue, 
And poets their accomplices in crime. 
Such your main quarry, — by the way, you strike 
Ignobler game, mere miscreants, snob or scamp. 
Cowardly, gluttonous, effeminate : 
Still with a bolt to spare when dramatist 
Proves haply unproficient in his art. 
Such aims — alone, no matter for the means — 



Declare the unexampled excellence 
Of their first author — Aristophanes ! 

Whereat — Euripides, oh, not thyself — 

Augustlier than the need ! — thy century 

Of subjects dreamed and dared and done, before 

' Banqueters ' gave dark earth enlightenment. 

Or ' Babylonians ' played Prometheus here, — 

These let me summon to defend thy cause ! 

Lo, as indignantly took life and shape 

Labor by labor, all of Herakles, — 

Palpably fronting some o'erbold pretence 

' Eurustheus slew the monsters, purged the world ! ' 

So shall each poem pass you and imprint 

Shame on the strange assurance. You praised Peace ? 

Sing him full-face, Kresphontes ! ' Peace ' the theme ? 

' Peace, in whom depths of wealth lie, — of the blest 

Immortals beauteousest, — 


Come ! for tlie heart within me dies away, 

So long dost thou delay ! 

O I have feared lest old age, much annoy, 

Conquer me, quite outstrip the tardy joy. 

Thy gracious triumph-season I would see. 

The song, the dance, the sport, profuse of crowns to be. 

But come ! for my sake, goddess great and dear, 

Come to the city here ! 

Hateful Sedition drive thou from our homes, 

^\^ith Her who madly roams 

Rejoicing in the steel against the life 

That's whetted — banish Strife ! ' 

"Shall I proceed? No need of next and next ! 
That were too easy, play so presses play, 
Trooping tumultuous, each with instance apt, 
Each eager to confute the idle boast ! 
What virtue but stands forth panegyrized, 

N 2 


What vice, unburned by stigma, in the books 

Which bettered Hellas, — beyond graven gold 

Or gem- indenture, sung by Phoibos' self 

And saved in Kunthia's mountain treasure-house — 

Ere you, man, moralist, were youth or boy ? 

— Not praise which, in the proffer, mocks the praised 

By sly admixture of the blameworthy 

And enforced coupling of base fellowship, — 

Not blame which gloats the while it frowning laughs, 

" Allow one glance on horrors — laughable ! " — 

This man's entire of heart and soul, discharged 

Its love or hate, each unalloyed by each, 

On objects worthy either; earnestness, 

Attribute him, and power ! but novelty? 

Nor his nor yours a doctrine — all the world's ! 

What man of full-grown sense and sanity 

Holds other than the truth, — wide Hellas through, — 

Though truth, he acts discredit truth he holds ? 


What imbecile has dared to formulate 
" Love war, hate peace, become a litigant ! " — 
And so preach on, reversing rule of right 
Because he quarrels, combats, goes to law ? 
No, for his comment runs, with smile or sigh 
According to heart's temper, " Peace were best. 
Except occasions when we put aside 
Peace, and bid all the blessings in her gift 
Quick join the crows, for sake of Marathon ! " 

Nay, you reply ; for one, whose mind withstands 

His heart, and, loving peace, for conscience ' sake 

Wants war, — you find a crowd of hypocrites 

Whose conscience means ambition, grudge and greed. 

On such, reproof, sonorous doctrine, melts 

Distilled like universal but thin dew 

Which all too sparsely covers country : dear. 

No doubt, to universal crop and clown, 


Still, each bedewed keeps his own head-gear dry 
With upthrust skiadeiofi, shakes adroit 
The droppings to his neighbour. No ! collect 
All of the moisture, leave unhurt the heads 
Which nowise need a washing, save and store 
And dash the whole condensed to one fierce spout 
On some one evildoer, sheltered close, — 
Fond he supposed, — till you beat guard away. 
And showed your audience, not that war was wrong, 
But Lamachos absurd, — case, crests and all, — 
Not that democracy was blind of choice, 
But Kleon and Huperbolos accurst : 
Not superstition vile, but Nikias crazed, — 
The concrete for the abstract ; that's the way ! 
What matters Choros crying ' Hence, impure ! ' 
You cried 'Ariphrades does thus and thus ! ' 
Now, earnestness seems never earnest more 
Than when it dons for garb — indifference ; 


So, there's much laughing : but, compensative, 

When frowning follows laughter, then indeed 

Scout inuendo, sarcasm, irony ! — 

Wit's polished warfare glancing at first graze 

From off hard headpiece, coarsely-coated brain 

O' the commonalty — whom, unless you prick 

To purpose, what avails that finer pates 

Succumb to simple scratching? Those— not these — 

'Tis Multitude, which, moved, fines Lamachos, 

Banishes Kleon and l)urns Sokrates, 

House over head, or, better, poisons him. 

Therefore in dealing with King Multitude, 

Club-dmb the callous numscuUs ! In and in 

Beat this essential consequential fact 

That here they have a hater of the three. 

Who hates in word, phrase, nickname, epithet 

And illustration, beyond doubt at all ! 

And similarly, would you win assent 


To — Peace, suppose? You tickle the tough hide 
With good plain pleasure her concomitant — 
And, past mistake again, exhibit Peace — 
Peace, vintager and festive, cheesecake-time, 
Hare-shce-and-peasoup season, household-joy ; 
Theoria's beautiful belongings match 
Oporia's lavish condescendings : brief. 
Since here the people are to judge, you press 
Such argument as people understand : 
If with exaggeration — what care you ? 

Have I misunderstood you in the main ? 
No ! then must answer be, such argument. 
Such policy, no matter what good love 
Or hate it help, in practice proves absurd. 
Useless and null : henceforward intercepts 
Sober effective blow at what you blame, 
And renders nugatory rightful praise 


Of thing or person. The coarse brush has daubed — 

What room for the fine Hmner's pencil-mark? 

Blame ? You curse, rather, till who blames must blush — 

Lean to apology or praise, more like ! 

Does garment, simpered o'er as white, prove grey ? 

" Black, blacker than Acharnian charcoal, black 

Beyond Kimmerian, Stugian blackness black," 

You bawl, till men sigh " nearer snowiness ! " 

\\'hat follows ? What one faint-rewarding fall 

Of foe belaboured ne'er so lustily ? 

Laugh Lamachos from out the people's heart ? 

He died, commanding, "hero," say yourself! 

Gibe Nikias into privacy ?^ — nay, shake 

Kleon a little from his arrogance 

By cutting him to shoe-sole-shreds ? 1 think. 

He ruled his life-long and, when time was ripe. 

Died fighting for amusement, — good tough hide ! 

Sokrates still goes up and down the streets 


And Aristullos puts his speech in book, 
When both should be abohshed long ago. 
Nay, wretchedest of rags, Ariphrades — 
You have been fouling that redoubtable 
Harp-player, twenty years, with what effect ? 
Still he strums on, strums ever cheerily, 
And earns his wage, — who minds a joke ? men say. 
No, friend ! The statues stand — mudstained at most- 
Titan or pygmy : what achieves their fall 
Will be, long after mud is flung and spent. 
Some clear thin spirit-thrust of lightning — truth ! 

Your praise, then — honey-smearing helps your friend. 

More than blame's ordure-smirch hurts foe, perhaps ? 

Peace, now, misunderstood, ne'er prized enough. 

You have interpreted to ignorance 

Till ignorance opes eye, bat-blind before. 

And for the first time knows Peace means the power 


On maw of pan- cake, cheese-cake, barley-cake, 
No stop nor stint to stuffing. AVhile, in camp, 
Who fights chews rancid tunny, onions raw, 
Peace sits at cosy feast with lamp and fire, 
Complaisant smooth-sleeked flute-girls giggling 

How thick and fast the snow falls, freezing War 
Who shrugs, campaigns it, and may break a shin 
Or twist an ankle ! come, who hesitates 
To give Peace, over War, the preference ? 
Ah, friend — had this indubitable fact 
Haply occurred to poor Leonidas, 
How had he turned tail on Thermopulai ! 
It cannot be that even his few wits 
Were addled to the point that, so advised. 
Preposterous he had answered — " Cakes are prime. 
Hearth-sides are snug, sleek dancing-girls have 



And yet — for country's sake, to save our gods 

Their temples, save our ancestors their tombs. 

Save wife and child and home and liberty, — 

I would chew sliced-salt-fish, bear snow — nay, starve, 

If need were,— and by much prefer the choice ! " 

Why, friend, your genuine hero, all the while. 

Has been — who served precisely for your butt — 

Kleonumos that, wise, cast shield away 

On battle-ground ; cried " Cake my buckler be, 

Embossed with cream-clot ! peace, not war, I choose. 

Holding with Dikaiopolis ! " Comedy 

Shall triumph, Dikaiopolis win assent, 

When next Miltiades shirks Marathon, 

Themistokles swaps Salamis for — cake, 

And Kimon grunts " Peace, grant me dancing-girls ! " 

But sooner, hardly ! twenty-five years since, 

The war began, — such pleas for Peace have reached 

A reasonable age. The end shows all ! 


And so with all the rest you advocate ! 
"Wise folk leave litigation ! ware the wasps ! 
Who loves the law and lawyers, heliast-like, 
Wants hemlock ! " None shows that so funnily. 
But, once cure madness, how comports himself 
Your sane exemplar, what's our gain thereby ? 
Philokleon turns Bdelukleon ! just this change, — 
New sanity gets straightway drunk as sow, 
Cheats baker-wives, brawls, kicks, cuffs, curses folk, 
Parades a shameless flute-girl, bandies filth 
With his own son who cured his father's cold 
By making him catch fever — funnily ! 
But as for curing love of law-suits — faugh ! 

And how does new improve upon the old 
— Your boast — in even abusing ? Rough, may be — 
Still, honest was the old mode. " Call thief— thief ! " 
But never call — thief even — murderer ! 


Much less call fop and fribble, worse one whit 

Than fribble and fop ! Spare neither ! beat your brains 

For adequate invective, — cut the life 

Clean out each quality, — but load your lash 

With no least lie, or we pluck scourge from hand ! 

Does poet want a whipping, write bad verse, 

Inculcate foul deeds ? There's the fault to flog ! 

You vow " The rascal cannot read nor write, 

Spends more in buying fish than Morsimos, 

Somebody helps his Muse and courts his wife, 

His uncle deals in crockery, and last, — 

Himself 's a stranger ! " That's the cap and crown 

Of stinging-nettle, that's the master-stroke ! 

What poet-rival, — after " housebreaker," 

" Fish-gorging," " midnight footpad " and so forth, — 

Proves not, beside, " a stranger?" Chased from charge 

To charge, and, lie by lie, laughed out of court, — 

Lo, wit's sure refuge, satire's grand resource — 


All, from Kratinos downward—" strangers " they ! 

Pity the trick 's too facile ! None so raw 

Among your playmates but have caught the ball 

And sent it back as briskly to — yourself ! 

You too, my Attic, are styled •' stranger" — Rhodes, 

Aigina, Lindos or Kameiros, — nay, 

'Twas Egypt reared if Eupolis be right) 

Who wrote the comedy (Kratinos vows) 

Kratinos helped a little ! Kleon's self 

Was nigh promoted Comic, when he haled 

My poet into court, and o'er the coals 

Hauled and re-hauled " the stranger, — insolent. 

Who brought out plays, usurped our privilege ! " 

Why must you Comics one and all take stand 

On lower ground than truth from first to last ? 

Why all agree to let folks disbelieve. 

So laughter but reward a funny lie ? 

Repel such onslaughts — answer, sad and grave, 


Your fancy-fleerings — who would stoop so low ? 

Your own adherents whisper, — when disgust 

Too menacingly thrills Logeion through 

At — Perikles invents this present war 

Because men robbed his mistress of three maids — 

Or — Sokrates wants burning, house o'er head, — 

" What, so obtuse, not read between the lines ? 

Our poet means no mischief! All should know — 

Ribaldry here implies a compliment I 

He deals with things, not men, — his men are things — 

Each represents a class, plays figure-head 

And names the ship : no meaner than the first 

Would serve ; he styles a trireme ' Sokrates ' — 

Fears 'Sokrates '-may prove unseaworthy, 

(That's merely — ' Sophists are the bane of boys ') 

Rat- riddled ('they are capable of theft') 

Rotten or whatsoe'er shows ship-disease, 

('They war with gods and worship whirligig.') 


You never took the joke for earnest ? scarce 
Supposed mere figure-head meant entire ship, 
And Sokrates — the whole fraternity ? " 

" This then is Comedy, our sacred song, 
Censor of vice, and virtue's guard as sure : 
Manners-instructing, morals' stop-estray. 
Which, born a twin with public liberty. 
Thrives with its welfare, dmndles with its wane I 
Liberty ? what so exquisitely framed 
And fitted to suck dry its life of life 
To last faint fibre? — since that life is truth ! 
You who profess your indignation swells 
At sophistry, when specious words confuse 
Deeds right and wrong, distinct before, you say — 
(Though all that's done is — dare veracity, 
Show that the true conception of each deed 
Affirmed, in vulgar parlance, " wrong " or " right," 


Proves to be neither, as the hasty hold, 

But, change your side, shoots Hght, where dark alone 

Was apprehended by the vulgar sense) 

You who put sophistry to shame, and shout 

" There's but a single side to man and thing ; 

A side so much more big than thing or man 

Possibly can be, that — believe 'tis true ? 

Such were too marvelous simplicity ! " — 

Confess, those sophists whom yourself depict, 

( — Abide by your own painting !) what they teach, 

They wish at least their pupil to believe. 

And, what believe, to practise ! did you wish 

Hellas should haste, as taught, with torch in hand, 

And fire the horrid Speculation-shop ? 

Straight the shop's master rose and showed the mob 

What man was your so monstrous Sokrates ; 

Himself received amusement, why not they ? 

Just as did Kleon first play magistrate 


And bid you put your birth in evidence — 
Since no unbadged buffoon is licensed here 
To shame us all when foreign guests may mock — 
Then, — birth established, fooling licensed you, — 
He, duty done, resumed mere auditor, 
Laughed with the loudest at his Lamia-shape, 
Kukloboros-roaring, and the camel-rest. 
Nay, Aristullos, — once your volley spent 
On the male-Kirkc and her swinish crew, — 
Platon, — so others call the youth we love, — 
Sends your performance to the curious king — 
" Do you desire to know Athenai's knack 
At turning seriousness to pleasantry ? 
Read this ! One Aristullos means myself. 
The author is indeed a merry grig ,! " 
Nay, it would seem as if yourself were bent 
On laying down the law " Tell lies I must — 
Aforethought and of purpose, no mistake ! " 
o 2 


When forth yourself step, tell us from the stage 

" Here you behold the King of Comedy — - 

Me, who, the first, have purged my every piece 

From each and all my predecessors' filth. 

Abjured those satyr-adjuncts sewn to bid 

The boys laugh, satyr-jokes whereof not one 

Least sample but would make my hair turn grey 

Beyond a twelvemonth's ravage ! I renounce 

Mountebank-claptrap, such as firework-fizz 

And torchflare, or else nuts and barleycorns 

Scattered among the crowd, to scramble for 

And stop their mouths with ; no such stuff shames me ! 

Who, — what's more serious, — know both when to strike 

And when to stay my hand : once dead, my foe, 

Why, done, my fighting ! / attack a corpse ? 

I spare the corpse-like even ! punish age ? 

I pity from my soul that sad effete 

Toothless old mumbler called Kratinos ! once 


My rival, — now, alack, the dotard slinks 
Ragged and hungry to what hole's his home ; 
Ay, slinks thro' byways where no passenger 
Flings him a bone, to pick. You formerly 
Adored the Muses' darling : dotard now. 
Why, he may starve ! O mob most mutable ! " 
So you harangued in person ; while, — to point 
Precisely out, these were but lies you launched, — 
Prompt, a play followed primed with satyr-frisks. 
No spice spared of the stomach-turning stew, 
Full-fraught with torch-display, and barley-throw, 
And Kleon, dead enough, bedaubed afresh ; 
While daft Kratinos — home to hole trudged he, 
Wrung dry his wit to the last vinous dregs, 
Decanted them to " Bottle," — beat, next year, — 
" Bottle " and dregs — your best of " Clouds " and 

dew ! 
Where, Comic King, may keenest eye detect 


Improvement on your predecessors' work 
Except in lying with audacity ? 

Why — genius ! That's the grandeur, that's the gold — 

T\v2iC% you — superlatively true to touch — 

Gold, leaf or lump — gold, an) how the mass 

Take manufacture and prove Pallas' casque 

Or, as your choice falls, simply cask to keep 

Corruption from decay ! Your rivals' hoard 

May ooze forth, lacking such preservative : 

Yours cannot — gold plays guardian far too well ! 

Genius, I call yon : dross, your rivals share ; 

Ay, share and share alike, too ! says the world, 

However you pretend supremacy 

In aught beside that gold, your very own. 

Satire ? " Kratinos for our satirist ! " 

The world cries. Elegance? "Who elegant 

As Eupolis?" resounds as noisily. 


Artistic fiincy ? Choros-creatures quaint ? 

Magnes invented '' Birds " and " Frogs " enough, 

Archippos punned, Hegemon parodied, 

To heart's content, before you stepped on stage. 

Moral invective ? Eupolis exposed 

" That prating beggar, he who stole the cup," 

Before your ' Clouds ' rained grime on Sokrates ; 

Nay, what beat "Clouds" but " Konnos," muck for mud? 

Courage ? How long before, well-masked, you poured 

Abuse on Eukrates and Lusikles, 

Did Telekleides and Hermippos pelt 

Their Perikles and Kumon ? standing forth. 

Bare-headed, not safe crouched behind a name, — 

Philonides or else Kallistratos, 

Put forth, when danger threatened, — mask for face, 

To bear the brunt, — if blame fell, take the blame, — 

If praise . . . why, frank laughed Aristophanes 

"They \vrite such rare stuft"? No, I promise you !" 


Rather, I see all true improvements, made 

Or making, go against you — tooth and nail 

Contended with ; 'tis still Moruchides, 

'Tis Euthumenes, Surakosios, nay, 

Argurrhios and Kinesias, — common sense 

And public. shame, these only cleanse your stye ! 

Coerced, prohibited, — you grin and bear, 

And, soon as may be, hug to heart again 

The banished nastiness too dear to drop ! 

Krates could teach and practice festive song 

Yet scorn scurrility ; as gay and good, 

Pherekrates could follow. Who loosed hold. 

Must let fall rose-wreath, stoop to muck once more ? 

Did your particular self advance in aught. 

Task the sad genius — steady slave the while — 

To further — say, the patriotic aim ? 

No, there's deterioration manifest 

Year by year, play by play ! survey them all, 


From that boy's-triumph when " Acharnes " dawned, 

To " Thesmophoriazousai, ' — this man's-shame ! 

There, truly, patriot zeal so prominent 

Allowed friends' plea perhaps : the baser stuff 

Was but the nobler spirit's vehicle. 

Who would imprison, unvolatilize 

A violet's perfume, blends with fatty oils 

Essence too fugitive in Hower alone ; 

So, calling unguent — violet, call the play — 

Obscenity impregnated with " Peace" ! 

But here's the boy grown bald, and here's the play 

With twenty years' experience : where's one spice 

Of odour in ihe hogs'-lard ? what pretends 

To aught except a grease-pot's quality ? 

Friend, sophist-hating ! know, — worst sophistry 

Is when man's own soul plays its own self false, 

Reasons a vice into a virtue, pleads 

"I detail sin to shame its author" — not 


" I shame Ariphrades for sin's display" ! 

" I show Oporia to commend Sweet Home " — 

Not " I show Bacchis for the striplings' sake ! " 

Yet all the same — O genius and gold — 
Had genius ne'er diverted gold from use 
Worthy the temple, to do copper's work 
And coat a swine's trough — which abundantly 
Might furnish Phoibos' tripod, Pallas' throne ! 
Had you, I dream, discarding all the base. 
The brutish, spumed alone convention's watch 
And ward against invading decency, 
Disguised as license, law in lawlessness, 
And so, re-ordinating outworn rule, 
Made Comedy and Tragedy coml)ine, 
Prove some new Both-yet-neither, all one bard, 
Euripides with Aristophanes 
Cooperant ! this, reproducing Now 


As that gave Then existence : Life to-day, 
This, as that other— Life dead long ago ! 
The mol:» decrees such feat no crown, perchance, 
But — why call crowning the reward of quest? 
Tell him, my other poet, — where thou walk'st 
Some rarer world than e'er Ilissos washed ! 

But dream goes idly in the air. To earth ! 
Earth's question just amounts to — which succeeds, 
Which fails of two life-long antagonists? 
Suppose my charges all mistake ! assume 
Your end, despite ambiguous means, the best — 
The only ! you and he, a patriot-pair. 
Have striven alike for one result — say. Peace ! 
You spoke your best straight to the arbiters — 
Our people : have you made them end this war 
By dint of laughter and abuse and lies 
And postures of Oporia ? Sadly — No ! 


This war, desj^ite your twenty-five years' work, 

May yet endure until Athenai falls, 

And freedom falls with her. So much for you ! 

Now, the antagonist Euripides — 

Has he succeeded better ? Who shall say ? 

He spoke quite o'er the heads of Kleon's crowd 

To a dim futia-e, and if there he fail, 

Why, you are fellows in adversity. 

But that's unlike the fate of wise words launched 

By music on their voyage. Hail, Depart, 

Arrive, Glad Welcome ! Not my single wish — 

Yours also wafts the white sail on its way. 

Your nature too is kingly. All beside 

I call pretension — no true potentate, 

Whatever intermediary be crowned, 

Zeus or Poseidon, where the vulgar sky 

Lacks not Triballos to complete the group. 

1 recognize, — behind such phantom-crew, — 


Necessity, Creation, Poet's Power, 

Else never had I dared approach, appeal 

To poetry, power, Aristophanes ! 

But I trust truth's inherent kingliness. 

Trust who, by reason of much truth, shall reign 

More or less royally — may prayer but push 

His sway past limit, purge the false from true ! 

Nor, even so, had boldness nerved my tongue 

But that the other king stands suddenly, 

In all the grand investiture of death, 

Bowing your knee beside my lowly head — 

Equals one moment ! 

Now, arise and go ! 
Both have done homage to Euripides ! " 

Silence pursued the words : till he broke out — 

" Scarce so ! This constitutes, I may believe, 


Sufficient homage done by who defames 
Your poet's foe, since you account me such ; 
But homage-proper, — pay it by defence 
Of him, direct defence and not obUque, 
Not by mere mild admonishment of me ! " 

" Defence ? The best, the only I " I replied. 
" A story goes — When Sophokles, last year, 
Cited before tribunal by his son 
(A poet — to complete the parallel) 
Was certified unsound of intellect, 
And claimed as only fit for tutelage, 
Since old and doating and incompetent 
To carry on this world's work, — the defence 
Consisted just in his reciting (calm 
As the verse bore, which sets our heart a-swell 
And voice a-heaving too tempestuously) 
That choros-chant " The station of the steed, 


Stranger ! thou comest to, — Kolonos white ! " 

Then he looked round and all revolt was dead. 

You know^ the one adventure of my life — 

What made Euripides Balaustion's friend. 

When I last saw him, as he bade farewell, 

" I sang another ' Herakles,' " smiled he ; 

" It gained no prize : your love be prize I gain I 

Take it — the tablets also where I traced 

The story first with stulos pendent still — 

Nay, the psalterion may complete the gift, 

So, should you croon the ode bewailing xVge, 

Yourself shall modulate — same notes, same strings — 

With the old friend who loved Balaustion once." 

There they lie ! W' lien you broke our solitude. 

We were about to honor him once more 

By reading the consummate Tragedy. 

Night is advanced ; I have small mind to sleep ; 

May I go on, and read, — so make defence, 


So test true godship ? You affirm, not I, 

— Beating the god, affords such test : / hold 

That when rash hands but touch divinity, 

The chains drop off, the prison-walls dispart, 

And — fire — he fronts mad Pentheus ! Dare we try? 

Accordingly I read the perfect piece. 



Zeus' Couchmatc, — who of mortals knows not me, 
Argive Amphitruon whom Alkaios sired 
Of old, as Perseus him, I — Herakles ? 
My home, this Thebai where the earth-born spike 
Of Sown-ones burgeoned : Ares saved from these 
A handful of their seed that stocks to-day 
With children's children Thebai, Kadmos built. 
Of these had Kreon birth, Menoikeus' child, 
King of the country, — Kreon that became 


The father of this woman, Megara, 

Whom, when time was, Kadmeians one and all 

Pealed praise to, marriage-songs with fluted help, 

While to my dwelling that grand Herakles 

Bore her, his bride. But, leaving Thebes — where I 

Abode perforce — this Megara and those 

Her kinsmen, the desire possessed my son 

Rather to dwell in Argos, that walled work, 

Kuklopian city, which I fly, myself, 

Because I slew Elektruon. .Seeking so 

To ease away my hardships and once more 

Inhabit his own land, for my return 

Heavy the price he pays Eurustheus there — 

The letting in of light on this choaked world ! 

Either he promised, vanquished by the goad 

Of Here, or because fate willed it thus. 

The other labours — why, he toiled them through ; 

But for this last one — down by Tainaros, 


Its mouth, to Haides' realm descended he 
To drag into the light the three-shaped hound 
Of Hell : whence Herakles returns no more. 
Now, there's an old-world tale, Kadmeians have, 
How Dirkc's husband was a Lukos once, 
Holding the seven-towered city here in sway 
Before they ruled the land, white-steeded p'.iir, 
Amphion, Zethos, born to Zeus the twins. 
This Lukos' son, — named like his father too, 
No born Kadmeian but Euboia's gift, — 
Comes and kills Kreon, lords it o'er the land, 
Falling upon our town sedition-sick. 
To us, akin to Kreon, just that bond 
Becomes the worst of evils, seemingly ; 
For, since my son is in the earth's abysms. 
This man of valour, Lukos, lord and king, 
Seeks now to slay these sons of Herakles, 
And slay his wife as well, — by murder thus 



Thinking to stamp out murder, — slay too me, 

(If me 'tis fit you count among men still, — 

Useless old age) and all for fear lest these, 

Grown men one day, exact due punishment 

Of bloodshed and their mother's father's fate. 

I therefore, since he leaves me in these domes^ 

The children's household guardian,— left, when earth's 

Dark dread he underwent, that son of mine, — 

I, with their mother, lest his boys should die, 

Sit at this altar of the saviour Zeus 

Which, glory of triumphant spear, he raised 

Conquering — my nobly-born ! — the Minuai. 

Here do we guard our station, destitute 

Of all things, drink, food, raiment, on bare ground 

Couched side by side : sealed out of house and home 

Sit we in a resourcelessness of help. 

Our friends — why, some are no true friends, I see ! 

The rest, that are true, want the means to aid. 


So operates in man adversity : 

Whereof may never anybody — no, 

Though half of him should really wish me well,-^ 

Happen to taste ! a friend-test feultless, that ! 


Old man, who erst didst raze the Taphian town, 
Illustriously, the army-leader, thou. 
Of speared Kadmeians— how gods play men false ! 
I, now, missed nowise fortune in my sire, 
Who, for his wealth, was boasted mighty once, 
Having supreme rule, — for the love of which 
Leap the long lances forth at favoured breasts, — 
And having children too : and me he gave 
Thy son, his house with that of Herakles 
Uniting by the far-famed marriage-bed. 
And now these things are dead and flown away, 
While thou and I await our death, old man, 


These Herakleian boys too, whom — my cliicks— 

I save beneath my wings like brooding bird. 

But one or other falls to questioning 

" O mother," cries he " where in all the world 

Is father gone to? What's he doing? when 

Will he come back ? " At fault through tender years, 

They seek their sire. For me, I put them off. 

Telling them stories ; at each creak of door. 

All wonder " Does he come ? " — and all a-foot 

Make for the fall before the parent knee. 

Now then, what hope, what method of escape 

Facilitatest thou ? — for, thee, old man, 

I look to, — since we may not leave by stealth 

The limits of the land, and guards, more strong 

Than we, are at the outlets : nor in friends 

Remain to us the hopes of safety more. 

Therefore, whatever thy decision be, 

Impart it for the common good of all ! 


Lest now should prove the proper time to die, 
Though, being weak, we spin it out and live. 


Daughter, it scarce is easy, do one's best, 
To blurt out counsel, things at such a pass. 


You want some sorrow more, or so love life ? 


I both enjoy life, and love hopes beside. 


And I ; but hope against hope— no, old man ! 


In these delayings of an ill lurks cure. 


But bitter is the meantime, and it bites. 


O there may be a run before the wind 
From out these present ills, for me and thee, 
Daughter, and yet may come my son, thy spouse ! 
But hush ! and from the children take away 
Their founts a-flow with tears, and talk them calm, 
Steal them by stories — sad theft, all the same ! 
For, human troubles — they grow weary too ; 
Neither the wind-blasts always have their strength, 
Nor happy men keep happy to the end : 
Since all things change — their natures part in twain ; 
And that man's bravest, therefore, who hopes on, 
Hopes ever : to despair is cowardly. 



These domes that overroof, 
This long-used couch, I come to, having made 
A stalif my prop, that song may put to proof 
The swan-hke power, age-whitened, — poet's aid 
Of sobbed-forth dirges — words that stand aloof 
From action now : such am I — just a shade 
With night for all its face, a mere night-dream — 
And words that tremble too : howe'er they seem, 
Devoted words, I deem. 

O, of a father ye unflithered ones, 

O thou old man, and thou whose groaning stuns — 

Unhappy mother — only us above. 

Nor reaches him below in Haides' realm, thy love 

— (Faint not too soon, urge forward foot and limb 

Way-weary, nor lose courage — as some horse 


Yoked to tlie car whose weight recoils on him 

Just at the rock-ridge that concludes his course ! 

Take by the hand, the peplos, any one 

Whose foothold fails him, printless and fordone ! 

Aged, assist along me aged too, 

Who, — mate with thee in toils when life was new, 

And shields and spears first made acquaintanceship, — 

Stood by thyself and proved no bastard-slip 

Of fatherland when loftiest glory grew.) — 

See now, how like the sire's 

Each eyeball fiercely fires ! 

What though ill-fortune have not left his race ? 

Neither is gone the grand paternal grace ! 

Hellas ! O what — what combatants, destroyed 

In these, wilt thou one day seek — seek, and find all void 

Pause ! for I see the ruler of this land, 
Lukos, now passing through the palace-gate. 



The Herakleian couple — father, wife — 

If needs I must, I question : "must" forsooth? 

Being your master — all I please, I ask. 

To what time do you seek to spin out life ? 

What hope, what help see, so as not to die ? 

Is it you trust the sire of these, that's sunk 

In Haides, will return ? How past the pitch, 

Suppose you have to die, you pile the woe — 

Thou, casting, Hellas through, thy empty vaunts 

As though Zeus helped thee to a god for son ; 

And thou, that thou wast styled our best man's wife ! 

\Miere was the awful in his work wound up. 

If he (lid quell and quench the marshy snake 

Or the Nemeian monster whom he snared 

And — says, by throttlings of his arm, he slew ? 

With these do you outwrestle me ? Such feats 


Shall save from death the sons of Herakles 

Who got praise, being nought, for bravery 

In wild-beast-battle, otherwise a blank ? 

No man to throw on left arm buckler's weight, 

Not he, nor get in spear's reach ! bow he bore — 

True coward's-weapon : shoot first and then fly ! 

No bow-and-arrow proves a man is brave, 

But who keeps rank, — stands, one unwinking stare 

As, ploughing up, the darts come, — brave is he. 

My action has no impudence, old man ! 

Providence, rather : for I own I slew 

Kreon, this woman's sire, and have his seat. 

Nowise I wish, then, to leave, these grown up, 

Avengers on me, payment for my deeds. 


As to the part of Zeus in his own child, 
Let Zeus defend that ! As to mine, 'tis me 


The care concerns to show by argument 

The folly of this fellow,— Herakles, 

Whom I stand up for ! since to hear thee styled 

Cowardly — that is unendurable. 

First then, the infamous (for I account 

Amongst the words denied to human speech, 

Timidity ascribed thee, Herakles !) 

This I must put from thee, with gods in proof. 

Zeus' thunder I appeal to, those four steeds 

Whereof he also was the charioteer 

^Vllen, having shot down the earth's Giant-growth — 

(Never shaft flew but found and fitted flank) 

Triumph he sang in common with the gods. 

The Kentaur-race, four-footed insolence — 

Go ask at Pholoe', vilest thou of kings, 

Whom they would pick out and pronounce best man, 

If not my son, " the seeming-brave," say'st thou ! 

But Dirphus, tliy Abantid mother-town, 


Question her, and she would not praise, I think ! 

For there's no spot, where having done some good, 

Thy country thou mightst call to witness worth. 

Now, that allwise invention, archer's-gear. 

Thou blamest : hear my teaching and grow sage ! 

A man in armour is his armour's slave, 

And, mixed with rank and file that want to run, 

He dies because his neighbours have lost heart. 

Then, should he break his spear, no way remains 

Of warding death off, — gone that body-guard, 

His one and only ; while, whatever folk 

Have the true bow-hand, — here's the one main good,- 

Though he have sent ten thousand shafts abroad, 

Others remain wherewith the archer saves 

His limbs and life, too, — stands afar and wards 

Away from flesh the foe that vainly stares 

Hurt by the viewless arrow, while himself 

Offers no full front to those opposite. 


But keeps in thorough cover : there's llie point 

That's capital in combat — damage foe, 

Yet keep a safe skin — foe not out of reach 

As you are ! Thus my words contrast with thine, 

And such, in judging facts, our difference. 

These children, now, why dost thou seek to slay? 

What have they done thee ? In a single point 

I count thee wise — if, being base thyself, 

Thou dreadst the progeny of nobleness. 

Yet this bears hard upon us, all the same, 

If we must die — because of fear in thee — 

A death 't were fit thou suffer at our hands, 

Thy betters, did Zeus rightly judge us all. 

If therefore thou art bent on sceptre-sway, 

Thyself, here — suffer us to leave the land, 

Fugitives ! nothing do by violence. 

Or violence thyself shalt undergo 

When tl\e gods' gale may chance to change for thee 


Alas, O land of Kadmos, — for 'tis thee 

I mean to close with, dealing out the due 

Revilement, — in such sort dost thou defend 

Herakles and his children ? Herakles 

Who, coming, one to all the world, against 

The Minuai, fought them and left Thebes an eye 

Unblinded henceforth to front freedom with ! 

Neither do I praise Hellas, nor shall brook 

Ever to keep in silence that I count 

Towards my son, craven of cravens — her 

Whom it behoved go bring the young ones here 

Fire, spears, arms — in exchange for seas made safe, 

And cleansings of the land, his labour's price. 

But fire, spears, arms, — O children, neither Thebes 

Nor Hellas has them for you ! 'Tis myself, 

A feeble friend, ye look to : nothing now 

But a tongue's murmur, for the strength is gone 

We had once, and with age are limbs a-shake 


And force a-flicker ! Were I only young, 

Still with the mastery o'er bone and thew, 

Grasping first spear that came, the yellow locks 

Of this insulter would I bloody so — 

Should send him skipping o'er the Atlantic bounds 

Out of my arm's reach through poltroonery ! 


Have not the really good folk starting-points 

For speech to purpose, — though rare talkers they ? 


Say thou against us words thou towerest with ! 
I, for thy words, will deal tliee blows, their due. 
Go, some to Helikon, to Parnasos 
Some, and the clefts there ! Bid the woodmen fell 
Oak-tnmks, and, when the same are brought inside 
The city, pile the altar round with logs, 


Then fire it, burn the bodies of them all, 

That they may learn thereby, no dead man rules 

The land here, but 'tis I, by acts like these ! 

As for you, old sirs, who are set against 

My judgments, you shall groan for— not alone 

The Herakleian children, but the fate 

Of your own house beside, when faring ill 

By any chance : and you shall recollect 

Slaves are you of a tyranny that's mine ! 


O progeny of earth, — whom Ares sowed 
When he laid waste the dragon's greedy jaw — 
Will ye not lift the staves, right-hand supports, 
And bloody this man's irreligious head? 
Who, being no Kadmeian, rules, — the wretch, — 
Our easy youth : an interloper too ! 
But not of me, at least, shalt thou enjoy 


Thy lordship ever ; nor my labour's fruit, — 
Hand worked so hard for, — have ! A curse with thee, 
Whence thou didst come, there go and tyrannize ! 
For ne\er while I live shalt thou destroy 
The Herakleian children : not so deep 
Hides he below ground, leaving thee their lord ! 
But we bear both of you in mind, — that thou, 
The land's destroyer, dost possess the land. 
While he who saved it, loses every right. 
/ play the busy-body — for I serve 
My dead friends when they need friends' service most ? 
O right-hand, how thou yearnest to snatch spear 
And serve indeed ! in weakness dies the wish, 
Or I had stayed thee calling me a slave. 
And nobly drawn my breath at home in Thebes 
Where thou exultest ! — city that's insane. 
Sick through sedition and bad government, 
Else never had she gained for master — thee ! 

Q 2 



Old friends, I praise you : since a righteous wrath 
For friend's sake well becomes a friend. But no ! 
On our account in anger with your lord, 
Suffer no injury ! Hear my advice, 
Amphitruon, if I seem to speak aright. 
O yes, I love my children ! how not love 
What I brought forth, what toiled for ? and to die- 
Sad I esteem too ; still, the fated way 
Who stiffens him against, that man I count 
Poor creature ; us, who are of other mood. 
Since we must die, behoves us meet our death 
Not burnt to cinders, giving foes the laugh — 
To me, worse ill than dying, that ! we owe 
Our houses many a brave deed, now to pay. 
Thee, indeed, gloriously men estimate 
For spear- work, so that unendurable 


Were it that thou shouklst die a death of shame. 
And for my glorious husband, where wants he 
A witness that he would not save his boys 
If touched in their good fame thereby? since birth 
Bears ill with baseness done for children's sake, 
— My husband needs must be my pattern here ! 
See now thy hope — how much I count thereon ! 
Thou thinkest that thy son will come to light : 
And, of the dead, who came from H aides back ? 
But we with talk this man might mollify : 
Never ! Of all foes, fly the foolish one ! 
Wise, well-bred people, make concession to ! 
Sooner you meet respect by speaking soft. 
Already it was in my mind — perchance 
We might beg off these children's banishment ; 
But even that is sad — involving them 
In safety, ay — and piteous poverty ! 
Since the host's visage for the flying friend 


Has, only one day, the sweet look, 'tis said. 

Dare with us death, which waits thee, dared or no ! 

We call on thine ancestral worth, old man ! 

For who out-labours what the gods appoint, 

Shows energy, but energy gone mad. 

Since what must — none e'er makes what must not be. 


Had anyone, while yet my arms were strong, 
Been scorning thee, he easily had ceased. 
But we are nought, now ; thine henceforth to see — 
Amphitruon, how to push aside these fates ! 


Nor cowardice nor a desire of life 
Stops me from dying : but I seek to save 
My son his children. Vain ! I set my heart. 
It seems, upon impossibility. 


See, it is ready for the sword, this throat 

To pierce, divide, dash down from precipice ! 

But one grace grant us, king, we supphcate ! 

Slay me and this unhappy one before 

The children, lest we see them — impious sight ! — 

Gasping the soul forth, calling all the while 

On mother and on father's father ! Else, 

Do as thy heart inclines thee ! No resource 

Have we from death, and we resign ourselves. 


And I too supplicate : add grace to grace. 

And, though but one man, doubly serve us both ! 

Let me bestow adornment of the dead 

Upon these children ! Throw the palace wide ! 

For now we are shut out. Thence these shall share 

At least so much of wealth, was once their sire's ! 



These things shall be. Withdraw the bolts, I bid 
My servants ! Enter and adorn yourselves ! 
I grudge no peploi ; but when these ye wind 
About your bodies, — that adornment done, — 
Then I shall come and give you to the grave. 


O children, follow this unhappy foot. 
Your mother's, into your ancestral home, 
Where others have the power, are lords in truth, 
Although the empty name is left us yet ! 


O Zeus, in vain I had thee marriage-mate, 
In vain I called thee father of my child ! 
Thou wast less friendly far than thou didst seem. 
I, the mere man, o'ermatch in virtue thee 


The mighty god : for I have not betrayed 
The Herakleian children, — whereas tliou 
Hadst wit enough to come clandestinely 
Into the chamber, take what no man gave. 
Another's place ; and when it comes to help 
Thy loved ones, there thou lackest wit indeed ' 
Thou art some stupid god, or born unjust. 


Even a dirge, can Phoibos suit 

In song to music jubilant 

For all its sorrow : making shoot 

His golden plectron o'er the lute, 

Melodious ministrant. 

And I, too, am of mind to raise, 

Despite the imminence of doom, 

A song of joy, outpour my praise 

To him — what is it rumour says ? — 


Whether — now buried in the ghostly gloom 

Below ground, — he was child of Zeus indeed, 

Or mere Amphitruon's mortal seed — 

To him I weave the wreath of song, his labour's meed. 

For, is my hero perished in the feat? 

The virtues of brave toils, in death complete, 

These save the dead in song, — their glory-garland meet ! 

First, then, he made the wood 

Of Zeus a solitude. 

Slaying its lion-tenant ; and he spread 

The tawniness behind — his yellow head 

Enmufifled by the brute's, backed by that grin of dread. 

The mountain-roving savage Kentaur-race 

He strewed with deadly bow about their place. 

Slaying with winged shafts : Peneios knew, 

Beauteously-eddying, and the long tracts too 

Of pasture trampled fruitless, and as well 


Those desolated haunts Mount Pelion under, 

And, grassy up to Homole, each dell 

Whence, having filled their hands with pine-tree plunder. 

Horse-like was wont to prance from, and subdue 

The land of Thessaly, that bestial crew. 

The golden-headed spot-back'd stag he slew, 

That robber of the rustics : glorified 

Therewith the goddess who in hunter's pride 

Slaughters the game along Oinoe's side. 

And, yoked abreast, he brought the chariot-breed 

To pace submissive to the bit, each steed 

That in the bloody cribs of Diomede 

Champed and, unbridled, hurried down that gore 

For grain, exultant the dread feast before — 

Of man's flesh : hideous feeders they of yore ! 

All as he crossed the Hebros' silver-flow 

Accomplished he such labour, toiling so 

For Mukenaian tyrant; ay, and more — 


He crossed the Melian shore 

And, by the sources of Amauros, shot 

To death that strangers'-pest 

Kuknos, who dwelt in Amphanaia : not 

Of fame for good to giiest ! 

And next, to the melodious maids he came, 
Inside the Hesperian court-yard : hand must aim 
At plucking gold fruit from the appled leaves, 
Now he had killed the dragon, backed like flame, 
Who guards the unapproachable he weaves 
Himself all round, one spire about the same. 
And into those sea-troughs of ocean dived 
The hero, and for mortals calm contrived, 
Whatever oars should follow in his wake. 
And under heaven's mid-seat his hands thrust he. 
At home with Atlas : and, for valour's sake, 
Held the gods up their star-faced mansionry. 


Also, the rider-host of Amazons 

About Maiotis many-streamed, he went 

To conquer through the billowy Euxeine once, 

Having collected what an armament 

Of friends from Hellas, all on conquest bent 

Of that gold-garnished cloak, dread girdle-chase ! 

So Hellas gained the girl's barbarian grace 

And at Mukenai saves the trophy still — 

Go wonder there, who will ! 

And the ten thousand-headed hound 

Of many a murder, the Ixrnaian snake 

He burned out, head by head, and cast around 

His darts a poison thence, — darts soon to slak2 

Their rage in that three-bodied herdsman's gore 

Of Erutheia. Many a running more 

He made for triumph and felicity. 

And, last of toils, to Haides, never dry 


Of tears, he sailed : and there he, luckless, ends 

His life completely, nor returns again. 

The house and home are desolate of friends, 

And where the children's life-path leads them, plain 

I see, — no step retraceable, no god 

Availing, and no law to h^lp the lost ! 

The oar of Charon marks their period. 

Waits to end all. Thy hands, these roofs accost ! — 

To thee, though absent, look their uttermost ! 

But if in youth and strength I flourished still. 

Still shook the spear in fight, did power match will 

In these Kadmeian co- mates of my age, 

They would, — and I, — when warfare was to wage, 

Stand by these children ; but I am bereft 

Of youth now, lone of that good genius left ! 

But hist, desist ! for here come these, — 


Draped as the dead go, under and over, — 
Children long since, — now hard to discover. — 
Of the once so potent Herakles ! 
And the loved wife dragging, in one tetlier 
About her feet, the boys together ; 
And the hero's aged sire comes last ! 
Unhappy that I am ! Of tears which rise, — 
How am I all unable to hold fast, 
Longer, the aged fountains of these eyes ! 


Be it so ! Who is priest, who butcher here 

Of these ill-fated ones, or stops the breath 

Of me, the miserable ? Ready, see. 

The sacrifice — to lead where Haides lives 1 

O children, we are led — no lovely team 

Of corpses — age, youth, motherhood, all mixed ! 

O sad fate of myself and these my sons 


Whom with these eyes I look at, this last time ! 

I, indeed, bore you : but for enemies 

I brought you up to be a laughing-stock, 

Matter for merriment, destruction-stuff ! 

Woe's me ! 

Strangely indeed my hopes have struck me down 

From what I used to hope about you once — 

The expectation from your father's talk ! 

For thee, now, thy dead sire dealt Argos to : 

Thou wast to have Eurustheus' house one day, 

And rule Pelasgia where the fine fruits grow ; 

And, for a stole of state, he wrapped about 

Thy head with that the lion-monster bore, 

That which himself went wearing armour-wise. 

And thou wast King of Thebes — such chariots there ! 

Those plains I had for portion — all for thee, 

As thou hadst coaxed them out of who gave birth 

To thee, his boy : and into thy right hand 


He thrust the guardian-ckib of Daidalos, — 

Poor guardian proves the gift that plays thee false ! 

And upon thee he promised to bestow 

Oichalia — what, with those flir-shooting shafts, 

He ravaged once ; and so, since three you were, 

With threefold kingdoms did he build you up 

To very towers, your father, — proud enough, 

Prognosticating, from your manliness 

In boyhood, what the manhood's self would be. 

For my part, I was picking out for }0U 

Brides, suiting each with his alliance — this 

From Athens, this from Sparte', this from Thebes — 

Whence, suited — as stern-cables steady ship — 

You might liave hold on life gods bless. All gone ! 

Fortune turns round and gives us — you, the Fates 

Instead of brides — me, tears for nuptial baths, 

Unhappy in my hoping ! And the sire 

Of your sire — he prepares the marriage-feast 


242 • HERAKLES. 

Befitting Haides who plays father now — 

Bitter relationship ! Oh me ! which first — 

Which last of you shall I to bosom fold ? 

To whom shall I fit close, his mouth to mine ? 

Of whom shall I lay hold and ne'er let go ? 

How would I gather, like tlie brown-winged bee. 

The groans from all, and, gathered into one, 

Give them you back again, a crowded tear ! 

Dearest, if any voice be heard of men 

Dungeoned in Haides, thee — to thee I speak ! 

Here is thy father dying, and thy boys ! 

And I too perish, famed as fortunate 

By mortals once, through thee ! Assist them ! 

Come ! 
But come ! though just a shade, appear to me ! 
For, coming, thy ghost-grandeur would suffice, 
Such cowards are they in thy presence, these 
Who kill thy children now thy back is turned ! 



Ay, daughter, bid the powers below assist ! 
But I will rather, raising hand to heaven, 
Call thee to help, O Zeus, if thy intent 
Be, to these children, helpful anyway, 
Since soon thou wilt be valueless enough ! 
And yet thou hast been called and called ; in vain 
I labour : for we needs must die, it seems. 
V/dl, aged brothers— life 's a little thing ! 
Such as it is, then, ])ass life pleasantly 
From day to night, nor once grieve all the while ! 
Since Time concerns him not about our hopes, — 
To save them, — but his own work done, flies off 
Witness myself, looked up to among men, 
Doing noteworthy deeds : when here comes fate 
lifts me away, like feather skyward borne. 
In one day ! Riches then and glory, — whom 
R 2 


These are found constant to, I know not. Friends, 
Farewell ! the man who loved you all so much, 
Now, this last time, my mates, ye look upon ! 



O father, do I see my dearest ? Speak ! 


No more than thou canst, daughter— dumb like thee 


Is this he whom we heard was under ground ? 


Unless at least some dream in day we see ! 



^Vho.t do I say? what dreams insanely view? 
This is no other than thy son, old sire ! 
Here, children ! hang to these paternal robes, 
Quick, haste, hold hard on him, since here's your trUe 
Zeus that can save — and every whit as well ! 


O hail, my palace, my hearth's propula, — 
How glad I see thee as I come to light ! 
Ha, what means this? My children I behold 
Before the house in garments of the grave, 
Chapleted, and, amid a crowd of men. 
My very wife — my father weeping too, 
Whatever the misfortune ! Come, best take 
My station nearer these and learn it all ! 
^Vife, what new sorrow has approached our home ? 



O dearest ! light flashed on thy father now ! 

Art thou come ? art thou saved and dost thou fall 

On friends in their supreme extremity ? 


How say'st thou ? Father ! what's the trouble here ? 


Undone are we ! — but thou, old man, forgive 
If first I snatch what thou shouldst say to him ! 
For somehow womanhood wakes pity more. 
Here are my children killed and I undone ! 


Apollon, with what preludes speech begins ! 



Dead are my brothers and old father too. 


How say'st thou? — doing what? — by spear-stroke 
whence ? 


Lukos destroyed them — the kind's noble king ! 


Met them in arms ? or through the land's disease? 


Sedition : and he sways seven-gated Thebes. 


Why then came fear on the old man and thee ? 


He meant to kill thy father, me, our boys. 


How say'st thou ? Fearing what from orphanage ? 


Lest they should some day pay back Kreon's death. 


And why trick out the boys corpse-fashion thus ? 


These wraps of death we have already donned. 


And you had died througli violence ? Woe's me ! 



Left bare of friends : and thou wast dead, we heard. 


And whence came on you this faintheartedness ? 


The heralds of Eurustheus brought the news. 


And why was it you left my house and hearth ? 


Forced thence : thy father — from his very couch ! 


And no shame at insulting the old man ? 


Shame, truly ! no near neighbours he and Shame ! 


And so much, in my absence, lacked I friends ? 


Friends, — are there any to a luckless man ? 


The Minuai-war I waged, — they spat forth these ? 


Friendless, — again I tell thee, — is ill-luck. 


Will not you cast these hell-wraps from your hair 
And look on light again^ and with your eyes 251 

Taste the sweet change from nether dark to day ? 

^Vhile I — for now there needs my handiwork — 

First I shall go, demolish the abodes 

Of these new lordships ; next hew off the head 

Accurst and toss it for the dogs to trail. 

Then, such of the Kadmeians as I find 

Were craven though they owed me gi'atitude, — 

Some I intend to handle with this club 

Renowned for conquest ; and with winged shafts 

Scatter the others, fill Ismenos full 

With bloody corpses, — Dirke's flow so white 

Shall be incarnadined. For, whom, 1 pray, 

Behoves me rather help than wife and child 

And aged fiither? Farewell, " Labours " mine ! 

Vainly I wrought them : my true work lay here ! 

Isly business is to die defending these, — 

If for their father's sake they meant to die. 

Or how shall we call brave the battling it 


With snake and lion, as Eurustheus bade, 

If yet I must not labour death away 

From my own children ? " Conquering Herakles " 

Folks will not call me as they used, I think ! 

The right thing is for parents to assist 

Children, old age, the partner of the couch. 


True, son ! thy duty is — be friend to friends 
And foe to foes : yet— no more haste than needs ! 


Why, father, what is over-hasty here ? 


Many a pauper, — seeming to be rich, 

As the word goes,— the king calls partisan. 

Such made a riot, ruined Thebes to rob 


Their neighbour : for, what good they liad at home 
Was spent and gone — flew off through idleness. 
You came to trouble Thebes, they saw : since seen, 
Beware lest, raising foes, a multitude. 
You stumble where you apprehend no harm. 


If all Thebes saw me, not a whit care I. 
But seeing as I did a certain bird 
Not in the lucky seats, I knew some woe 
Was foUen upon the house : so, purposely, 
By stealth I made my way into the land. 


And now, advancing, hail the hearth with praise 
And give the ancestral home thine eye to see ! 
For he himself will come, thy wife and sons 
To drag-forth — slaughter— slay me too, — this king ! 


But, here remaining, all succeeds with thee — 
Gain lost by no false step. So, this thy town 
Disturb not, son, ere thou right matters here I 


Thus will I do, for thou say'st well ; my home 
Let me first enter ! Since at the due time 
Returning from the unsunned depths where dwells 
Haides' wife Kore, let me not affront 
Those gods beneath my roof, I first should hail ! 


For didst thou really visit Haides, son ? 


Ay — dragged to light, too, his three-headed beast. 


By fight, didst conquer — or through Kore"s gift ? 



Fight : Avell for nic, I saw the Orgies first ! 


And is he in Eurusthcus' house, the brute ? 


Chthonia's grove, Hermion's city, holds him now. 


Does not Eurustheus know thee back on earth ? 


No : I would come first and see matters here. 


But how wast thou below ground such a time ? 



I Stopped, from Haides, bringing Theseus up. 


And where is he ? — bound o'er the plain for home ? 


Gone glad to Athens — Haides' fugitive ! 

But, up, boys ! follow father into house ! 

There's a far better going-in for you 

Truly, than going-out was ! Nay, take heart, 

And let the eyes no longer run and run ! 

And thou, O wife, my own, collect thy soul 

Nor tremble now ! Leave grasping, all of you. 

My garments ! I'm not winged, nor fly from friends ! 


No letting go for these, who all the more 


Hang to my garments ! Did you foot indeed 
'I'he razor's edge ? Why, then I'll cany them — 
Take with my hands these small craft up, and tow- 
Just as a ship would. There ! don't fear I shirk 
My children's service ! this way, men are men, 
No difference ! best and worst, they love their boys 
After one fashion : wealth they difter in — 
Some have it, others not ; but each and all 
Combine to form the children-loving race. 


Youth is a pleasant burthen to me ; 
But age on my head, more heavily 
Than the crags of Aitna, weighs and weighs, 
And darkening cloaks the lids and intercepts the rays. 
Never be mine the preference 
Of an Asian empire's wealth, nor yet 
Of a house all gold, to youth, to youth 



That's beauty, whatever the gods dispense ! 

Whether in wealth we joy, or fret 

Paupers,— of all God's gifts most beautiful, in truth ! 

But miserable murderous age I hate ! 
Let it go to wreck, the waves adown. 
Nor evei- by rights plague tower or town 
Where mortals bide, but still elate 
With wings, on ether, precipitate, 
Wander them round— nor wait ! 

But if the gods, to man's degree, 

Had wit and wisdom, they would bring 

Mankind a twofold youth, to be 

Their virtue's sign-mark, all should see. 

In those with whom life's winter thus grew spring. 

For when they died, into the sun once more 

Would they have traversed twice life's racecourse o'er ; 


W'hile ignobility had simply run 

Existence through, nor second life begun. 

And so might we discern both bad and good 

As surely as the starry multitude 

Is numbered by the sailors, one and one. 

I'ut now the gods by no apparent line 

Limit the worthy and the base define ; 

Only, a certain period rounds, and so 

Brings man more wealth, — but youthful vigour, no ! 

\\'ell ! I am not to pause 

Mingling together — wine and wine in cup — 

The Graces with the Muses up — 

Most dulcet marriage : loosed from music's laws, 

No life for me ! 

But where the wreaths abound, there ever may I be \ 

And still, an aged bard, I shout Mnemosune — 

Still chant of Herakles the triumph-chant, 


Companioned by the seven-stringed tortoise-shell 
And Libuan flute, and Bromios' self as well, 
God of the grape, with man participant ! 
Not yet will \\-e arrest their glad advance — 
The Muses who so long have led me forth to d;rnce ! 
A paian — lijaim the Delian girls indeed, 
Weaving a beauteous measure in and out 
His temple-gates, Latona's goodly seed ; 
And paians — I too, these thy domes about. 
From these grey cheeks, my king, will swan-like shout- 
Old songster ! Ay, in song it starts off brave — 
" Zeus' son is he ! " and yet, such grace of birth 
Surpassing far, to man his labours gave 
Existence, one calm flow without a wave, 
Having destroyed the beasts, the terrors of the earth. 


From out the house Amphitruon comes — in time ! 


For 'tis a long while now since ye bedecked 
Your bodies with the dead-folks' finery. 
But quick ! the boys and wife of Herakles — 
Bid them appear outside this house, keep ])act 
To die, and need no bidding but your own ! 


King ! you press hard on me sore-pressed enough, 
And give me scorn — beside my dead ones here. 
Meet in such matters were it, though you reign, 
To temper zeal with moderation. Since 
You do impose on us the need to die — 
Needs must we love our lot, obey your will. 


Where's Megara, then? Alkmene's grandsons, where? 


She, I think, — as one figiires from outside, — 

262 ■ HERAKLES. 

Well, this same thinking, — what affords its ground ? 


— Sits suppliant on the holy altar-steps, — 


Idly indeed a suppliant to save life ! 


— And calls on her dead husband, vainly too ! 


For he's not come, nor ever will arrive. 


Never — at least, if no god raise him up. 


Go to her, and conduct her from the house ! 


I should partake the murder, doing that. 


We, — since thou hast a scruple in the case, — 
Outside of fears, we shall march forth these lads, 
Mother and all. Here, follow me, my folk — 
And gladly so remove what stops our toils ! 


Thou — go then ! March where needs must ! What 

remains — 
Perhaps concerns another. Doing ill, 
Expect some ill be done thee ! 

1 #^* t.... ... 

"!■ 4J^ 4^ # '^ ^. *-^ .'ft-.^.* 

•I? -f 

f "^1^ 



* *.Jt 


Ha, old friends ! 
On he strides beautifully ! in the toils 
O* the net, where swords spring forth, will he be 

Minded to kill his neighbours — the arch-knave ! 
I go, too — I must see the falling corpse ! 
For he has sweets to give- — a dying man, 
Your foe, that pays the price of deeds he did. 


Troubles are over ! He the great king once, 
Turns the point, tends for Haides, goal of life ! 
O justice, and the gods' back-flowing fate ! 


Thou art come, late indeed, where death pays crime — 
These insults heaped on better than thyself ! 


Joy gives this outburst to my tears ! Again 
Come round those deeds, his doing, which of old 
He never dreamed himself was to endure — 
King of the country ! But enough, old ! 
Indoors, now, let us see how matters stand — 
If somebody be faring as I wish ! 


Ah me — mc ! 


This strikes the keynote— nuisic to my mind, 
Merry i' the household ! Death takes up the tune ! 
The king gives voice, groans murder's prelude well ! 


O, all the land of Kadmos ! slain by guile ! 



Ay, for who slew first ? Paying back thy due, 
Resign thee ! make, for deeds done, mere amends ! 
Who was it grazed the gods through lawlessness — 
Mortal himself, threw up his fools'-conceit 
Against the blessed heavenly ones — as though 
Gods had no power? Old friends, the impious 

Exists not any more ! The house is mute. 
Turn we to song and dance ! For, those I love, 
Those I wish well to, well fare they, to wish ! 

Dances, dances and banqueting 

To Thebes, the sacred city through, 

Are a care ! for, change and change 

Of tears to laughter, old to new, 

Our lays, glad birth, they bring, they bring ! 


He is gone and past, the mighty king ! 

And the old one reigns, returned — O strange ! 

From die Acherontian liarbour too ! 

Advent of liope, beyond thought's widest range ! 

To the gods, the gods are crimes a care, 

And they watch our virtue, well aware 

That gold and that prosperity drive man 

Out of his mind— those charioteers who hale 

Might-without-right behind them : foce who can 

Fortune's reverse which time prepares, nor quail ? 

— He who evades law and in lawlessness 

Delights him, — he has broken down his trust — 

The chariot, riches haled — now blackening in the dust ! 

Ismenos, go thou garlanded ! 
Break into dance, ye ways, the polished bed 
O' the seven-gated city ! Dirke, thou 
Fair-flowing, with the Asopiad sisters all, 


Leave your sire's stream, attend the festival 

Of Herakles, one choir of nymphs, sing triumph 

now ! 
O woody rock of Puthios and each home 
O' the Helikonian Muses, ye shall come 
With joyous shouting to my walls, my town 
Where saw the light that Spartan race, those " Sown," 
Brazen-shield-bearing chiefs, whereof the band 
With children's children renovates our land, 
To Thebes a sacred light ! 
O combination of the marriage rite — 
Bed of the mortal-born and Zeus, who couched 
Beside the nymph of Perseus' progeny ! 
For credible, past hope, becomes to me 
That nuptial story long ago avouched, 
O Zeus ! and time has turned the dark to bright, 
And made one blaze of truth the Herakleidan 

might — 


His, who emerged from earth's pavilion, left 
Plouton's abode, the nether palace-cleft. 
Thou wast the lord that nature gave me — not 
That baseness born and l)red — my king, by lot ! 
— Baseness made plain to all, who now regard 
The match of sword with sword in fight, — 
If to the gods the Just and Right 
Still pleasing be, still claim the palm's award. 

Honor ! 

Are we come to the self-same passion of fear, 

Old friends? — such a phantasm fronts me here 

Visible over the palace-roof! 

In flight, in flight, the laggard limb 

Bestir ! and haste aloof 

From that on the roof there — grand and grim ! 

O Paian, king I 

Be thou my safeguard from the woeful thing I 



Courage, old men ! beholding here — Night's birdi- 
Madness, and me the handmaid of the gods, 
Iris : since to your town Ave come, no plague — 
Wage war against the house of but one man 
From Zeus and from Alkmene sprung, they say. 
Now, till he made an end of bitter toils. 
Fate kept him safe, nor did his father Zeus 
Let us once hurt him, Here nor myself. 
But, since he has toiled through Eurustheus' task. 
Here desires to fix fresh blood on him — 
Slaying his children : I desire it too. 

Up then, collecting the unsoftened heart, 
Unwedded virgin of black Night ! Drive, drag 
Frenzy upon the man here — whirls of brain 
Big with child-murder, while his feet leap gay ! 


Let go the bloody cable its whole length ! 

So that, — when o'er the Acherousian ford 

He has sent floating, by self-homicide, 

His beautiful boy-garland, — he may know 

First, Herd's anger, what it is to him, 

And then learn mine. The gods are vile indeed 

And mortal matters vast, if he 'scape free ! 


Certes, from well-born sire and mother too 

Had I my birth, whose blood is Night's and Heaven's ; 

l)Ut here's my glory, — not to grudge the good ! 

Nor love I raids against the friends of man. 

I wish, then, to persuade, — before I see 

You stumbling, you and Here ! trust my words ! 

This man, the house of whom ye hound me to, 

Is not unfamed on earth nor gods among ; 

Since, having quelled waste land and savage sea, 


He alone raised again the falling rights 

Of gods — gone ruinous through impious men. 

Desire no mighty mischief, I advise ! 


Give thou no thought to Here's faulty schemes ! 


Changing her step from faulty to fault-free ! 


Not to be wise, did Zeus' wife send thee here ! 


Sun, thee I cite to witness — doing what I loathe to do I 
But since indeed to Here and thyself I must subserve. 
And follow you quick, with a whizz, as the hounds a-hunt 
with the huntsman, 


— Go I will ! and neither the sea, as it groans with its 

waves so furiously, 
Nor earthquake, no, nor the bolt of thunder gasping out 

hefiven's labour-throe. 
Shall cover the ground as I, at a bound, rush into the 

bosom of Herakles ! 
And home I scatter, and house I batter. 
Having first of all made the children fall, — 
And he who felled them is never to know 
He gave birth to each cliild that received the blow. 
Till the Madness, I am, have let him go ! 

Ha, behold, already he rocks his head — he is off from the 

starting-place ! 
Not a word, as he rolls his frightful orbs, from their 

sockets wrenched in the ghastly race ! 
And the breathings of him he tempers and times no more 

than a bull in act to toss, 



And hideously he bellows invoking the Keres, daugliters 

of Tartaros. 
Ay, and I soon will dance thee madder, and pipe thee 

quite out of thy mind with fear ! 
So, up with the famous foot, thou Iris, march to Olumpos, 

leave me here ! 
Me and mine, who now combine, in the dreadful shape 

no mortal sees, 
And now are about to pass, from without, inside of the 

home of Herakles ! 


Otototoi, — groan ! Away is mown 

Thy flower, Zeus' offspring, City ! 

Unhappy Hellas, who dost cast (the pity !) 

\VhiO worked thee all the good, 

Away from thee, — destroyest in a mood 

Of Madness him, to death whom pipings dance ! 


There goes she, in her chariot, — groans, her brood, — 

And gives her team the goad, as though adrift 

For doom, Night's Gorgon, Madness, she^ whose 

Turns man to marble ! with what hissings lift 
Their hundred heads the snakes, her head's inheritance ! 
Quick has the god changed fortune : through their sire 
Quick will the children, that he saved, expire ! 
O miserable me I O Zeus I thy child — 
Childless himself — soon vengeance, hunger-wild, 
Craving for punishment, will lay how low — 
Loaded with many a woe ! 

O palace-roofs ! your courts about, 

A measure begins all unrejoiced 

By the tympanies and the thyrsos hoist 

Of the Bromian revel-rout ! 

O ye domes ! and the measure proceeds 



For blood, not such as the cluster bleeds 
Of the Dionusian pouring-out ! 

Break forth, fly, children ! fatal this— 

Fatal the lay that is piped, I wis ! 

Ay, for he hunts a children-chase — 

Never shall madness lead her revel 

And leave no trace in the dwelUng-place ! 

Ai ai, because of the evil ! 

Ai ai, the old man — how I groan 

For the father, and not the father alone ! 

She who was nurse of his children, — small 

Her gain that they ever were born at all ! 

See! See! 

A whirlwind shakes hither and thither 
The house — the roof falls in together ! 
Ha, ha, what dost thou, son of Zeus ? 


A trouble of Tartaros broke loose, 
Such as once Pallas on the Titan thundered, 
Thou sendest on thy domes, roof-shattered and wall- 
sundered ! 


O bodies white with age ! — 


^Vhat cry, to me — 
What, dost thou call with ? 


There's a curse indoors ! 


I shall not bring a prophet : you suffice ! 



Dead are the children ! 


Ai ai ! 


Groan ! for, groans 
Suit well the subject ! Dire the children's death, 
Dire too the parent's hands that dealt the fate. 
No one could tell worse woe than we have borne ! 


How dost thou that same curse — curse, cause for 

groan — 
The father's on the children, make appear ? 
Tell in what matter they were hurled from heaven 


Against the liouse — these evils ; and recount 
The children's hapless fate, O Messenger ! 


The victims were before the hearth of Zeus, 
A household-expiation : since the king 
O' the country, Herakles had killed and cast 
From out the dwelling ; and a beauteous choir 
Of boys stood by his sire, too, and his wife. 
And now the basket had been carried round 
The altar in a circle, and we used 
The consecrated speech. Alkmene's son, — 
Just as he was about, in his right hand, 
To bear the torch, that he might dip into 
The cleansing-water, — came to a stand-still ; 
And, as their father yet delayed, his boys 
Had their eyes on him. But he was himself 
No longer : lost in rollings of the eyes 3 


Outthrusting eyes — their very roots — like blood ! 
Froth he dropped down his bushy-bearded cheek, 
And said, — together with a madman's laugh — 
" Father ! why sacrifice, before I slay 
Eunistheus ? why have twice the lustral fire, 
And double pains, when 'tis permitted me 
To end, with one good hand-sweep, matters here? 
Then, — when I hither bring Eurustbeus' head, — 
Then for these just slain, wash hands once for all ! 
Now, — cast drink-offerings forth, throw baskets down ' 
Who gives me bow and arrows, who my club ? 
I go to that Mukenai ! One must match 
Crowbars and mattocks, so that — those sunk stones 
The Kuklops squared with picks and plumb-line red — 
I, with my bent steel, may o'ertimible town ! " 
Which said, he goes and, — with no car to have — 
Affirms he has one! mounts the chariot-board, 
And strikes, as having really goad in hand ! 


And two ways laughed the servants — laugh with awe ; 

And one said, as each met the other's stare, 

" Playing us boys' tricks ? or is master mad ? " 

But up he climbs, and down along the roof, 

And, dropping into the men's place, maintains 

He's come to Nisos city, when he's come 

Only inside his own house ! then reclines 

On floor, for couch, and, as arrived indeed, 

Makes himself supper ; goes through some brief stay, 

Then says he's traversing the forest-flats 

Of Isthmos ; thereupon lays body bare 

Of bucklings, and begins a contest with 

— No one ! and is proclaimed the conqueror — 

He by himself — having called out to hear 

— Nobody ! Then, if you will take his word, 

Blaring against Eurustheus horribly, 

He's at Mukenai. But his father laid 

Hold of the stronsc hand and addressed him thus : 


" O son, what ails thee ? Of what sort is this 

Extravagance ? Has not some murder-craze, 

Bred of those corpses thou didst just despatch, 

Danced thee drunk?" But he, — taking him to crouch, 

Eurustheus' sire, that apprehensive touched 

His hand, a suppHant, — pushes him aside, 

Gets ready quiver, and bends bow against 

His children — thinking them Eurustheus' boys 

He means to slay. They, horrified with fear, 

Rushed here and there, — this child, into the robes 

O' the wretched mother — this, beneath the shade 

O' the column,— and this other, like a bird, 

Cowered at the altar-foot. The mother shrieks 

" Parent — what dost thou ? — kill thy children ? " So 

Shriek the old sire and crowd of servitors. 

But he, outwinding him, as round about 

The column ran the boy, — a horrid whirl 

O' the lathe his foot described ! — stands opposite, 


Strikes through the hver ! and suphie the boy 
Bedews the stone shafts, breathing out his Ufe. 
But " Victory " he sliouted ! boasted thus : 
" Well, this one nestling of Eurustheus — dead— 
Falls by me, pays back the paternal hate ! " 
Then bends bow on another who was crouched 
At base of altar—overlooked, he thought — 
And now prevents hiin^ falls at father's knee, 
Throwing up hand to beard and cheek above. 
" O dearest !" cries he " father, kill mc not ! 
Yours, I am— your boy : not Eurustheus' boy 
You kill now ! " But he, rolling the wild eye 
Of Gorgon,— as the boy stood all too close 
For deadly bowshot,— mimicry of smith 
Who baiters red-hot iron,— hand o'er head 
Heaving his club, on the boy's yellow hair 
Hurls it and breaks the bone. This second 
caught, — 


He goes, would slay the third, one sacrifice 

He and the couple ; but, beforehand here, 

The miserable mother catches up, 

Carries him inside house and bars the gate. 

Then he, as he were at those Kuklops' work. 

Digs at, heaves doors up, wrenches doorposts out, 

Lays wife and child low with the selfsame shaft. 

And this done, at the old man's death he drives ; 

But there came, as it seemed to us who saw, 

A statue — Pallas with the crested head. 

Swinging her spear — and threw a stone which smote 

Herakles' breast and stayed his slaughter-rage, 

And sent him safe to sleep. He falls to ground — 

Striking against the column with his back — 

Column which, with the falling of the roof, 

Broken in two, lay by the altar-base. 

And we, foot-free now from our several flights, 

Along with the old man, we fastened bonds 


Of rope-noose to the column, so that he, 

Ceasing from sleep, might not go adding deeds 

To deeds done. And he sleeps a sleep, poor wretch, 

No gift of any god ! since he has slain 

Children and wife. For me, I do not know 

What mortal has more misery to bear. 


A murder there was which Argolis 
Holds in remembrance, Hellas through. 
As, at that time, best and famousest : 
Of those, the daughters of Danaos slew. 
A murder indeed was that ! but this 
Outstrips it, straight to the goal has pressed. 
I am able to speak of a murder done 
To the hapless Zeus-bom offspring, too — 
Prokn^'s son, who had but one — 
Or a sacrifice to the Muses, say 


Rather, who Itus sing ahvay, 

Her single child ! But thou, the sire 

Of children three — O thou consuming fire ! — 

In one outrageous fate hast made them all expire ! 

And this outrageous fate — 

What groan, or wail, or deadmen's dirge, 

Or choric dance of Haides shall I urge 

The Muse to celebrate ? 

Woe ! woe ! behold ! 

The portaled palace lies unrolled, 

This way and that way, each prodigious fold ! 

Alas for me ! these children, see, 

Stretched, hapless group, before their father — he 

The all-unhappy, who lies sleeping out 

The murder of his sons, a dreadful sleep ! 

And bonds, see, all about, — 

Rope-tangle, ties and tether, — these 


Tightenings around the body of Herakles 
To the stone cohunns of the house made fast ! 

But — Hke a bird that grieves 

For callow nestlings, some rude hand bereaves — 

See, here, a bitter journey over-past, 

The old man— all too late— is here at last ! 


Silently, silently, aged Kadmeians ! 
Will ye not suffer my son, diffused 
Yonder, to slide from his sorrows in sleep ? 


And thee, old man, do I, groaning, weep, 

And the children too, and the head there — used 

Of old to the wreaths and paians ! 



Farther away ! Nor beat the breast, 
Nor wail aloud, nor rouse from rest 
The slumberer — asleep, so best ! 


Ah me — what a slaughter ! 


R.efrain — refrain ! 
Ye will prove my perdition ! 


Unlike water. 
Bloodshed rises from earth again ! 


Do I bid you bate your breath, in vain — 


Ye elders? Lament in a softer strain ! 
Lest he rouse himself, burst every chain, 
And bury the city in ravage — bray 
Father and house to dust away ! 


I cannot forbear — I cannot forbear ! 


Hush ! I will learn his breathings : there ! 
I will lay my ears close. 


What, he sleeps ? 


Ay, — sleeps ! A horror of slumber keeps 
The man who has piled 
On wife and child 



Death and death, as he shot them down 
With clang o' the bow. 




Even so ! 


— The fate of the children — 


Triple woe ! 


— Old man, the fate of thy son ! 


Hush, hush ! Have done ! 


He is turning about ! 

He is breaking out ! 

Away ! I steal 

And my body conceal, 

Before he arouse, 

In the depths of the house ! 


Courage ! The Night 

Maintains her right 

On the lids of thy son there, sealed from sight ! 


See, see ! To leave the light 
And, wretcli that I am, bear one last ill, 
I do not avoid ; but if he kill 
Me his own father, and devise 
Beyond the present miseries 
u 2 


A misery more ghastly still — 
And to haunt him, over and above 
Those here who, as they used to love, 
Now hate him, Avhat if he have with these 
My murder, the worst of Erinues ? 


Then was the time to die, for thee, 

When ready to wreak in the full degree 

Vengeance on those 

Thy consort's foes 

Who murdered her brothers ! glad, life's close, 

With the Taphioi down, 

And sacked their town 

Clustered about with a wash of sea ! 


To flight— to flight ! 

Away from the house, troop off, old men ! 


Save j'ourselves out of the maniac's sight ' 
He is rousing himself right up : and then, 
Murder on murder heaping anew, 
He will revel in blood your city through ! 


Zeus, why hast, with such unmeasured hate, 
Hated thy son, whelmed in this sea of woes ? 



In breath indeed I am — see things I ought — 
/Ether, and earth, and tliese the sunbeam-shafts ! 
But then — some billow and strange whirl of sense 

1 have fallen into ! and breathings hot I breathe — 
Smoked upwards, not the steady work from lungs. 
See now ! Why bound, — at moorings like a ship, — 
About my young breast and young arm, to this 



Stone piece of carved work broke in half, do I 
Sit, have my rest in corpses' neighbourhood ? 
Strewn on the ground are winged darts, and bow 
Which played my brother-shieldman, held in 

hand, — 
Guarded my side, and got my guardianship ! 
I cannot have gone back to Haides — twice 
Begun Eurustheus' race I ended thence ? 
But I nor see the Sisupheian stone. 
Nor Plouton, nor Demeter's sceptred maid ! 
I am struck witless sure ! Where can I be ? 
Ho there ! what friend of mine is near or far — 
Some one to cure me of bewilderment ? 
For nought familiar do I recognize. 


Old friends, shall I go close to these my woes ? 



Ay, and let mc too, — nor desert your ills ! 


Father, why weepest thou, and buriest up 
Thine eyes, aloof so from thy much-loved son ? 


O child ! — for, faring badly, mine thou art ! 


Do I fare somehow ill, that tears should flow ? 


lll^_would cause any god who bore, to groan ! 


That's boasting, truly ! still, you state no hap. 



For, thyself seest — if in thy wits again. 


Heyday ! How riddlingly that hint returns ! 


Well, I am trying — art thou sane and sound ! 


Say if thou lay'st aught strange to my life's charge ! 


If thou no more art Haides-drunk, — I tell ! 


I bring to mind no drunkenness of soul. 



Shall I unbind my son, old men, or what ? 


And who was binder, tell ! — not that, \\\)- deed ! 


Mind that much of misfortune — pass the rest ! 


Enough ! from silence, I nor learn nor wish. 


O Zeus, dost witness here throned Here's work ? 


But have I had to bear au^ht hostile thence ? 


Let be the goddess — bury thine own guilt ! 


Undone ! What is the sorrow thou wilt say ? 


Look ! See the ruins of thy children here ! 


Ah me ! What sight do wretched I behold ? 


Unfair fight, son, this fight thou fastenedst 
On thine own children ! 


Waiat fight ? ^\'ho slew these ? 



Thou and thy bow, and who of gods was cause. 


How say'st ? What did I ? Ill-announcing sire ! 


— Go mad ! Thou askest a sad clearing up ! 


And am I also murderer of my wife ? 


All the work here was just one hand's work— thine ! 


Ai ai— for groans encompass me — a cloud ! 



For these deeds' sake do I begroan thy fate ! 


Did I break up my house or dance it down ? 


I know just one thing — all's a woe with thee ! 


But where did the craze catch me ? where destroy? 


When thou didst cleanse hands at the altar-flame. 


Ah me ! why is it then I save my life — 
Proved murderer of my dearest ones, my boys ? 
Shall not I rush to the rock-level's leap, 


Or, darting sword through breast and all, become 
My children's blood-avenger ? or, this flesh 
Burning away with fire, so thrust away 
The infamy, which waits me there, from life ? 

Ah, but, — a hindrance to my purposed death, 
Theseus arrives, my friend and kinsman, here ! 
Eyes will be on me ! my child-murder-plague 
In evidence before friends loved so much ! 

me, what shall I do ? Where, taking wing 
Or gliding underground, shall I seek out 

A solitariness from misery ? 

1 will pull night upon my muffled head ! 

Let this wretch here content him with his curse 
Of blood : I would pollute no innocents ! 


I come, — with others who await beside 


Asopos' Stream, the armed Athenian youth, — 
Bring thy son, old man, spear's fight-fellowship ! 
For a bruit reached the Erectheidai's town 
That, having seized the sceptre of this realm, 
Lukos prepares you battle-violence. 
So, paying good back, — Herakles began, 
Saving me down there, — I have come, old man. 
If aught, of my hand or my friends', you want. 
What's here ? Why all these corpses on the ground ? 
Am I perhaps behindhand — come too late 
Fornewer ill? Who killed these children now? 
Whose wife was she, this woman I behold ? 
Boys, at least, take no stand in reach of spear ! 
Some other woe than war, I chance upon ! 


O thou, who sway'st the olive-bearing height ! — 



Why hail'st thou me with woeful prelude thus ? 


Dire sufferings have we suffered from the gods. 


These boys,— who are they, thou art weeping o'er ? 


He gave them birth, indeed, my hapless son ! 
Begot, but killed them — dared their bloody death. 


Speak no such horror ! 


Would I might obey ! 



O teller of dread tidings ! 


Lost are we — 
Lost — flown away from life ! 


What sayest thou ? 
What did he ? 


Erring through a frenzy-fit, 
He did all, with the arrows dipt in dye 
Of hundred-headed Hudra, 


Here 's strife ! 
But who is this among the dead, old man ? 



Mine, mine, this progeny— the labour-plagued. 
Who went with gods once to Phlegruia's plain. 
And in the giant-slaying war bore shield ! 


Woe— woe ! What man was born mischanceful thus ! 


Thou couldst not know another mortal man 
Toil- weary, more out-worn by wanderings. 


And wh}- i' the peploi hides he his sad head ? 


Not daring meet thine eye, thy friendliness 
And kinship,— nor that children's-blood about ! 



But / come to who shared my woe with me ! 
Uncover him ! 


O child, put from thine eyes 
The peplos, throw it off, show face to sun ! 
Woe's weight well matched contends with tears in thee. 
I supplicate thee, falling at thy cheek 
And knee and hand, and shedding this old tear ! 

son, remit the savage lion's mood, 
Since to a bloody, an unholy race 
Art thou led forth, if thou be resolute 
To go on adding ill to ill, my child ! 


Let me speak ! Thee, who sittest — seated woe — 

1 call upon to show thy friends thine eye ! 


For there's no darkness has a cloud so black 
May hide thy misery thus absolute. 
Why, waving hand, dost sign me — murder's done ? 
Lest a pollution strike me, from thy speech ? 
Nought care I to — with thee, at least — fare ill : 
For I had joy once ! Thcn^ — soul rises to, — 
When thou didst save me from the dead to light ! 
Friends' gratitude that tastes old age, I loathe, 
And him who likes to share when things look fine, 
But, sail along with friends in trouble — no ! 
Arise, uncover thine unhai)py head ! 
Look on us ! Every man of the right race 
Bears what, at least, the gods inflict, nor shrinks. 


Theseus, hast seen this match — my boys with me? 


I heard of, now I see the ills thou sign'st. 
.X 2 



Why then hast thou displayed my head to sun ? 


Why ? mortals bring no plague on aught divine ! 


Fly, O unhappy, me — an impious plague ! 


No plague of vengeance flits to friends from friends. 


I praise thee ! But I helped thee, — that is truth. 


And I, advantaged then, now pity thee. 



— The pitiable, — my children's murderer ! 


I mourn for thy sake, in this altered lot. 


Hast thou found others in still greater woe ? 


'I'hou, from earth, touchcst heaven, one huge distress I 


Accordingly, I am prepared to die. 


Think'st thou thy threats at all import the gods ? 



Gods please themselves : to gods I give their like. 


Shut thy mouth, lest big words bring bigger woe ! 


I am full fraught with ills — no stowing more ! 


Thou wilt do — what, then ? Whither moody borne ? 


Dying, I go below earth whence I came. 


Thou hast used words of — what man turns up first ! 


Wliile thou, being outside sorrow, schoolest me. 


The much-enduring Herakles talks thus ?— 


Not the so much-enduring : measure 's past ! 


—Mainstay to mortals, and their mighty friend ? 


They nowise profit me : but Here rules. 


I-Iellas forbids thou shouldst ineptly die. 



But hear, then, how I strive by arguments 
Against thy teachings ! I will ope thee out 
My life — past, present — as unliveable. 
First, I was born of this man, who had slain 
His mother's aged sire, and, sullied so, 
Married Alkmene, she who gave me birth. 
Now, when the basis of a family 
Is not laid right, what follows needs must fall 
And Zeus, whoever Zeus is, fonned me foe 
To Here (take not thou offence, old man ! 
Since father, in Zeus' stead, account I thee) 
And, while I was at suck yet, frightful snakes 
She introduced among my swaddling-clothes,- 
That bed-fellow of Zeus ! — to end me so. 
But when I gained the youthful garb of flesh, 
The labours I endured — what need to tell ? 


\Miat lions ever, or three-bodied brutes, 

Tuphons or giants, or the four-legg'd swarms 

Of Kentaur-battle, did not I end out ? 

And that hound, headed all about with heads 

Which cropped up twice, the Hudra, having slain — 

I both went through a mj-riad other toils 

In full drove, and arrived among the dead 

To convoy, as Eurustheus bade, to light 

Haides' three-headed dog and door-keeper. 

But then I,— wretch,— dared this last labour— see ! 

Slew my sons, keystone-coped my house with ills. 

To such a strait I come ! nor my dear Thebes 

Dare I inhabit, — and, suppose I stay? 

Into what fane or festival of friends 

Am I to go ? My curse scarce courts accost ! 

Shall I seek Argos ? How, if fled from home ? 

But ^ay, — I hurry to some other town ! 

And there they eye me, as notorious now, — 


Kept by sharp tongue-taunts under lock and key — 

" Is not this he, Zeus' son, who murdered once 

Children and wife ? Let him go rot elsewhere ! " 

To any man renowned as happy once, 

Reverses are a grave thing ; but to whom 

Evil is old acquaintance, there's no hurt 

To speak of, he and misery are twins. 

To this degree of woe I think to come : 

For earth will utter voice forbidding me 

To touch the ground, and sea — to pierce the wave. 

The river-springs — to drink, and I shall play 

Ixion's part quite out, the chained and wheeled ! 

And best of all will be, if so I 'scape 

Sight from one man of those Hellenes, — once 

I lived among, felicitous and rich ! 

Why ought I then to live ? What gain accrues 

From good-for-nothing, wicked life I lead ? 

In fine, let Zeus' brave consort dance and sing. 


Stamp foot, the Olympian Zeus' own sandal-trick ! 

What she has willed, that brings her will to pass — 

The foremost man of Hellas pedestalled, 

Up, over, and down whirling ! Who would pray 

To such a goddess ? — tliat, begrudging Zeus 

Because he loved a woman, ruins me — 

Lover of Hellas, faultless of the wrong ! 


This strife is from no other of the gods 
Than Zeus' wife ; rightly apprehend, as well, 
Why, to no death— thou meditatest now — 
I would persuade thee, but to bear thy woes ! 
None, none of mortals boasts a fate inimixed, 
Nor gods — if poets' teaching be not false. 
Have not they joined in wedlock against law 
With one another ? not, for sake of rule, 
Branded their sires in bondage ? Yet they house, 


All the same, in Olumpos, carry heads 

High there, notorious sinners though they be ! 

What wilt thou say, then, if thou, mortal-born, 

Bearest outrageously fate gods endure ? 

Leave Thebes, now, pay obedience to the law, 

And follow me to Pallas' citadel ! 

There, when thy hands are purified from stain. 

House will I give thee, and goods shared alike. 

What gifts I hold too from the citizens 

For saving twice seven children, when I slew 

The Knosian bull, these also give I thee. 

And ever}'^vhere about the land are plots 

Apportioned me : these, named by thine own name. 

Shall be henceforward styled by all men — thine. 

Thy life long ; but at death, when Haides-bound, 

All Athens shall uphold the honoured one 

With sacrifices, and huge marble heaps : 

For that's a fair crown our Hellenes grant 


Their peoiile— glory, should they help the brave ! 
And I repay thee back this grace for thine 
That saved me, now that thou art lorn of friends — 
Since, when the gods give honour, friends may flit : 
For, a god's help suffices, if he please. 


Ah me, these words are foreign to my woes ! 

I neither fancy gods love lawless beds, 

Nor, that with chains they bind each other's hands. 

Have I judged worthy faith, at any time ; 

Nor shall I be persuaded — one is born 

His fellows' master ! since God stands in need — 

If he is really God— of nought at all. 

These arc the poets' pitiful conceits ! 

But this it was I pondered, though woe-whelmed — 

" Take heed lest thou be taxed with cowardice 

Somehow in leaving thus the light of day ! " 


For whoso cannot make a stand against 

These same misfortunes, neither could withstand 

A mere man's dart, oppose death, strength to strength. 

Therefore unto thy city I will go 

And have the grace of thy ten thousand gifts. 

There ! I have tasted of ten thousand toils 

As truly — never waived a single one, 

Nor let these runnings drop from out my eyes ! 

Nor ever thought it would have come to this — 

That I from out my eyes do drop tears ! Well ! 

At present, as it seems, one bows to fate. 

So be it ! Old man, thou seest my exile — 

Seest, too, me— my children's murderer ! 

These give thou to the tomb, and deck the dead, 

Doing them honor with thy tears — since me 

Law does not sanction ! Propping on her breast, 

And giving them into their mother's arms, 

• — Re-institute the sad community 


AXTiich I, unhappy, brought to nothingness — 

Not by my will ! And, when earth hides the dead, 

Live in this city ! — sad, but, all the same, 

Force thy soul to bear woe along with me ! 

O children, — who begat and gave you birth — 

Your father, has destroyed you ! nought you gain 

By those fair deeds of mine I laid you uj). 

As by main-force I laboured glory out 

To give you, — that fine gift of fatherhood ! 

And thee, too, O my i)oor one, I destroyed, 

Not rendering like for like, as when thou kept'st 

My marriage-bed inviolate, — those long 

Household-seclusions draining to the dregs 

Inside my house ! O me, my wife, my boys — 

And — O myself, how, miserably moved, 

Am I disyoked now from both boys and wife ! 

O bitter those delights of kisses now — 

And bitter these my weapons' fellowship ! 


For I am doubtful whether shall I keep 

Or cast away these arrows which will clang 

Ever such words out, as they knock my side — 

" Us — thou didst murder wife and children with ! 

Us — child-destroyers — still thou keepest thine ! " 

Ha, shall I bear them in my arms, then ? What 

Say for excuse ? Yet, naked of my darts 

\\Tierewith I did my bravest, Hellas through. 

Throwing myself beneath foot to my foes, 

Shall I die basely ? No ! relinquishment 

Of these must never be, — companions once, 

We sorrowfully must observe the pact ! 

In just one thing, co-operate with me 

Thy sad friend, Theseus ! Go along with him 

To Arges, and in concert get arranged 

The price my due for bringing there the Hoimd ! 

O land of Kadmos, Theban people all, 

Shear off your locks, lament one wide lament, 


Go to my children's grave and, in one strain, 
Lament the whole of us — my dead and me — 
Since all together are fordone and lost, 
Smitten by Here"s single stroke ot fate ! 


Rise up now from tliy dead ones ! Tears enough. 
Poor friend ! 


I cannot : for my limbs are fixed. 


Ay : even these strong men fate overthrows ! 


Woe ! 

Here might I grow a stone, nor mind woes more ! 



Cease ! Give thy hand to friendly helpmate now 1 


Nay, but I wipe off blood upon thy robes ! 


Squeeze out and spare no drop ! I take it all ! 


Of sons bereaved, I have thee like my son ! 


Give to my neck thy hand ! 'tis I will lead. 


Yoke-fellows friendly — one heart-broken, though ! 
O father ! such a man we need for friend ! 



Certes, the land tliat bred him boasts good sons ! 


Turn me round, Theseus — to behold my boys ! 


What ? will the having such a love-charm soothe ? 


I want it ; and to press my father's breast. 


See here, O son ! for, what I love thou seek'st ! 


Strange ! Of thy labours no more memory ? 
V 2 



All those were less than these, those ills I bore ! 


Who sees thee grow a woman,^will not praise ! 


I live low to thee ? Not so once, I think ! 


Too low by far ! " Famed Herakles " — where's he ? 


Down amid evils, of what kind wast thou ? 


As far as courage — least of all mankind ! 



How say'st, then, / in evils shrink to nought ? 


Forward ! 


Farewell, old father ! 


Thou too, son ! 


Bury the boys as I enjoined ! 


And mc — 
■\Vho will be found to bury now, my child ? 



Myself ! 


When, coming? 


When thy task is done. 




I will have thee carried forth from Thebes 
To Athens. But bear in the children, earth 
Is burthened by ! Myself, — who with these shames 
Have cast away my house, — a ruined hulk, 
I follow — trailed by Theseus — on my way ; 


And whoso rather would have wealth and strength 
Than good friends, reasons foolishly therein ! 


And we depart, with sorrow at heart, 
Sobs that increase with tears that start ; 
The greatest of all our friends of yore, 
We have lost for evermore ! 

When the long silence ended, — " Our best friend — 
Lost, our best friend ! " he muttered musingly. 


Then, " Lachares the sculptor " (half aloud) 

" Sinned he or shmed he not ? ' Outrageous sin ! ' 

Shuddered our elders, ' Pallas should be clothed : 

He carved her naked.' ' But more beautiful ! ' 

Answers this generation : ' Wisdom formed 

For love not fear ! ' And there the statue stands, 

Entraps the eye severer art repels. 

Moreover, Pallas wields the thunderbolt, 

Yet has not struck the artist all this while. 

Pheidias and Aischulos ? Euripides 

And Lachares ? But youth will have its way ! 

The ripe man ought to be as old as young — 

As young as old. I too have youth at need. 

Much may be said for stripping wisdom bare ! 

" And who's ' our best friend ' ? You play kottabos ; 
Here's the last mode of playing. Take a sphere 
With orifices at due interval, 


Through topmost one of which, a throw adroit 
Sends wine from cup, clean passage, from outside 
To where, in hollow midst, a manikin 
SusjDended ever bobs with head erect 
Right underneath whatever hole's a-top 
When you set orb a-rolling : plumb, he gets 
Ever this benediction of the splash. 
An other-fashioned orb presents him fixed : 
Of all the outlets, he fronts only one. 
And only when that one, — and rare the chance, — 
Comes uppermost, docs he turn upward too : 
He can't turn all sides with the turning orb. 
Inside this sphere of life, — all objects, sense 
And soul perceive, — Euripides hangs fixed. 
Gets knowledge through the single aperture 
Of High and Right : with visage fronting these 
He waits the wine thence ere he operate, 
Work in the world and write a tragedy. 


When that hole happens to revolve to point, 

In drops the knowledge, waiting meets reward. 

But, duly in rotation, Low and Wrong — 

When these enjoy the moment's altitude, 

His heels are found just where his head should be ! 

No knowledge that way ! /am moveable, — 

To slightest shift of orb make prompt response, 

Face Low and Wrong and Weak and all the rest, 

And still drink knowledge, wine-drenched every turn, — 

Equally favoured by their opposites. 

Little and Bad exist, are natural : 

Then let me know them, and be twice as great 

As he who only knows one phase of life ! 

So doubly shall I prove ' best friend of man,' 

If I report the whole truth— Vice, perceived 

While he shut eyes to all but Virtue there. 

Man's made of both : and both must be of use 

To somebody : if not to him, to me. 


While, as to your imaginary Third 

Who, — stationed (by mechanics past my guess) 

So as to take in every side at once. 

And not successively, — may reconcile 

The High and Lx)w in tragicomic verse, — 

He shall be hailed superior to us both 

When bom— in the Tin-islands ! Meantime, here 

In bright Athenai, I contest the claim. 

Call myself lostephanos' ' best friend,' 

Who took my o\vn course, worked as I descried 

Ordainment, stuck to my first faculty ! 

" For, hsten ! There's no failure breaks the heart, 

Whate'er be man's endeavour in this world. 

Like the rash poet's when he — nowise fails 

By poetizing badly, — Zeus or makes 

Or mars a man, so — at it, merrily ! 

But when, — made man, — much like myself, — equipt 


For such and such achievement, — rash he turns 
Out of the straight path, bent on snatch of feat 
From — who's the appointed fellow born thereto, — 
Crows take him ! — in your Kassiterides ? 
Half-doing his work, leaving mine untouched, 
That were the failure ! Here I stand, heart-whole. 
No Thamuris ! 

" Well thought of, Thamuris ! 
Has zeal, pray, for ' best friend ' Euripides 
Allowed you to observe the honour done 
His elder rival, in our Poikil^ ? 
You don't know ? Once and only once, trod stage, 
Sang and touched lyre in person, in his youth, 
Our Sophokles, — youth, beauty, dedicate 
To Thamuris who named the tragedy. 
The voice of him was weak ; face, limbs and lyre, 
These were worth saving : Thamuros stands yet 


Perfect as painting helps in such a case. 

At least you know the story, for ' best friend' 

Enriched his ' Rhesos ' from the BHnd Bard's store ; 

So haste and see the work, and lay to heart 

What it was struck me when I eyed the piece ! 

Here stands a poet punished for rash strife 

With Powers above his power, who see with sight 

Beyond his vision, sing accordingly 

A song, which he must needs dare emulate ! 

Poet, remain the man nor ape the Muse ! 

'• But — lend me the psalterion ! Nay, for once — 
Once let my hand fall where the other's lay ! 
I see it, just as I were Sophokles, 
That sunrise and combustion of the east ! " 

And then he sang — are these unlike the words ? 


Thamuris marching, — lyre and song of Thrace — 
(Perpend the first, the worst of woes that were, 
Allotted lyre and song, ye poet-race !) 

Thamuris from Oichalia, feasted there 
By kingly Eurutus of late, now bound 
For Dorion at the uprise broad and bare 

Of Mount Pangaios, (ore with earth enwound 
Glittered beneath his footstep) — marching gay 
And glad, Thessalia through, came, robed and crowned, 

From triumph on to triumph, mid a ray 

Of early mom, — came, saw and knew the spot 

Assigned him for his worst of woes, that day. 

Balura — happier while its name was not — 
Met him, but nowise menaced ; slipt aside 
Obsequious river, to pursue its lot 


Of solacing the valley — say, some wide 
Thick busy human cluster, house and home, 
Embanked for peace, or thrift that thanks the tide. 

Thamuris, marching, laughed " Each flake of foam " 

(As sparklingly the ripple raced him by) 

" Mocks slower clouds adrift in the blue dome ! " 

For Autumn was the season ; red the sky 

Held mom's conclusive signet of the sun 

To break the mists up, bid them blaze and die. 

Mom had the mastery as, one by one 

All pomps produced themselves along the tract 

From earth's far ending to near heaven begun. 

Was there a ravaged tree ? it laughed compact 
With gold, a leaf-ball crisp, high-brandished now. 
Tempting to onset frost which late attacked. 


Was there a wizened shnib, a starveling bough, 

A fleecy thistle filched from by the wind, 

A weed, Pan's trampling hoof would disallow ? 

Each, with a glory and a rapture twined 
About it, joined the rush of air and light 
And force : the world was of one joyous mind. 

Say not the birds flew ! they forbore their right — 
Swam, revelling onward in the roll of things. 
Say not the beasts' mirth bounded ! that was flight- 
How could the creatures leap, no lift of wings ? 
Such earth's community of purpose, such 
The ease of earth's fulfilled imaginings, — 

So did the near and far appear to touch 

I' the moment's transport, — that an interchange 

Of function, far with near, seemed scarce too much ; 


And had the rooted plant aspired to range 
With the snake's Ucense, while the insect yearned 
To glow fixed as the flower, it were not strange — 

No more than if the flattery tree-top turned 

To actual music, sang itself aloft ; 

Or if the wind, impassioned chantress, earned 

The right to soar embodied in some soft 
Fine form all fit for cloud-companionship. 
And, blissful, once touch beauty chased so oft. 

Thamuris, marching, let no fancy slip 

Born of the fiery transport ; lyre and song 

Were his, to smite with hand and launch from lip — 

Peerless recorded, since the list grew long 
Of poets (saith Homtros) free to stand 
Pedestaled mid the Muses' temple-throng, 


A statued service, laureled, lyre in hand, 
(Ay, for we see them)— Thamuris of Thrace 
Predominating foremost of the band. 

Therefore the morn-ray that enriched his face, 

If it gave lambent chill, took flame again 

From flush of pride ; he saw, he knew the place. 

What wind arrived with all the rhythms from plain, 
Hill, dale, and that rough wildwood interspersed ? 
Compounding these to one consummate strain. 

It reached him, music ; but his own outburst 

Of victory concluded the account. 

And that grew song which was mere music erst. 

" Be my Parnassos, thou Pangaian mount ! 
And turn thee, river, nameless hitherto ! 
Famed shalt thou vie with famed Pieria's fount ! 


Here I await the end of this ado : 

Which wins— Earth's poet or the Heavenly Muse. . . . 

But song broke up in laughter. " Tell the rest, 
Who may ! /have not spurned the common life, 
Nor vaunted mine a lyre to match the Muse 
Who sings for gods, not men ! Accordingly, 
I shall not decorate her vestibule — 
Mute marble, blind the eyes and quenched the brain. 
Loose in the hand a bright, a broken lyre ! 
— Not Thamuris but Aristophanes ! 

" There ! I have sung content back to myself. 
And started subject for a play beside. 
My next performance shall content you both. 
Did ' Prelude-Battle ' maul ' best friend ' too much ? 
Then ' Main-Fight ' be my next song, fairness' self ! 
Its subject — Contest for the Tragic Crown. 
z 2 


Ay, you shall hear none else but Aischulos 

Lay down the law of Tragedy, and prove 

' Best friend ' a stray-away, — no praise denied 

His manifold deservings, never fear — 

Nor word more of the old fun ! Death defends ! 

Sound admonition has its due effect. 

Oh, you have uttered weighty words, believe ! 

Such as shall bear abundant fruit, next year, 

In judgment, regular, legitimate. 

Let Bacchos' self preside in person ! Ay — 

For there's a buzz about those ' Bacchanals ' 

Rumour attributes to your great and dead 

For final effort : just the prodigy 

Great dead men leave, to lay survivors low ! 

— Until we make acquaintance with our fate 

And find, fate's worst done, we, ihe same, survive 

Perchance to honor more the patron-god, 

Fitlier inaugurate a festal year. 


Now that the cloud has l)roken, sky laughs bhie, 

Earth blossoms youthfully ! Athenai breathes ! 

After a twenty-six years' wintry blank 

Struck from her life, — war-madness, one long swoon, 

She wakes up : Arginousai bids good cheer ! 

We have disposed of Kallikratidas ; 

Once more will S])arte' sue for terms,— who knows ? 

Cede Dekeleia, as the rumour runs : 

Terms which Athenai, of right mind again, 

Accepts — she can no other ! Peace declared, 

Have my long labours borne their fruit or no ? 

(kinned coarse buffoonery so oft in vain ? 

Enough — it simply saved you ! saviours — praise 

Theoria's beauty and Oporia's breadth ! 

Nor, w^hen Peace realizes promised bliss, 

Forget the Bald Bard, Envy ! but go burst 

As the Clip goes round., and the cates abound., 

Collops of hare, ivith roast spinks rare ! 


Confess my pipings, dancings, posings served 
A purpose : guttlings, guzzlings, had their use ! 
Say whether Hght Muse, Rosy-finger-tips, 
Or ' best friend's ' Heavy-hand, Melpomene', 
Touched lyre to purpose, played Amphion's part, 
And built Athenai to the skies once more ! 
Farewell, brave couple ! Next year, welcome me ! 

No doubt, in what he said that night, sincere ! 

One story he referred to, false or fact, 

Was not without adaptability. 

They do say — Lais the Corinthian once 

Chancing to see Eiu-ipides (who paced 

Composing in a garden, tablet-book 

In left hand, with appended stulos prompt) 

" Answer me," she began, " O Poet, — this ! 

What didst intend by writing in thy play 


Go hang, tJioii filthy doer ? " Struck on heap, 

Euripides, at the audacious speech — 

" Well now," quoth he, " thyself art just the one 

I should miagine fit for deeds of filth ! " 

She laughingly retorted his own line 

" What's filth, — unless who does it, thinks it so? " 

So might he doubtless think. " Farewell," said we. 

And he was gone, lost in the morning-grey, 

Rose-streaked and gold to eastward. Did we dream ? 

Could the j)oor twelve-hours hold this argument 

We render durable from fugitive. 

As duly at each sunset's droop of sail. 

Delay of oar, submission to sea-might, 

I still remember, you as duly dint 

Remembrance, with the punctual rapid style. 

Into — what calm cold page ! 


Thus soul escapes 
From eloquence made captive : thus mere words 
— Ah, would the lifeless body stay ! But no : 
Change upon change till, — who may recognize 
What did soul service, in the dusty heap ? 
What energy of Aristophanes 
Inflames the wreck Balaustion saves to show ? 
Ashes be evidence how fire — and srnoke — 
All night went lamping on ! But morn must rise. 
The poet — I shall say — burned up and, blank, 
Smouldered this ash, now white and cold enough. 

Nay, Euthukles ! for best, though mine it be, 
Comes yet ! Write on, write ever, wrong no word ! 

Add, first, — he gone, if jollity went too, 

Some of the graver mood, which mixed and marred, 

Departed likewise. Sight of narrow scope 


Has this meek consolation : neither ills, 
We dread, nor joys, we dare anticipate, 
Perform to promise. Each soul sows a seed — 
Euripides and Aristophanes ; 
Seed bears crop, scarce within our little lives ; 
But germinates, — perhaps enough to judge, — 
Next year? 

Whereas, next year brought harvest- time ! 
Eor, next year came, and went not, but is now, 
Still now, while you and I are bound for Rhodes 
That's all but reached ! — and harvest has it brought, 
Dire as the homicidal dragon-crop ! 
Sophokles had dismissal ere it dawned, 
Happy as ever ; though men mournfully 
Plausive, — when only soul could triumph now, 
And lophon produced his foth-ir's play, — 
Crowned the consummate song where Oidipous 


Dared the descent mid earthquake-thundering, 
And hardly Theseus' hands availed to guard 
Eyes from the horror, as their grove disgorged 
Its dread ones, while each daughter sank to ground. 

Then Aristophanes, on heel of that, 
Triumphant also, followed with his " Frogs : " 
Produced at next Lenaia, — three months since, — 
The promised Main-Fight, loyal, licence-free ! 
As if the poet, primed with Thasian juice, 
(Himself swore — wine that conquers every kind 
For long abiding in the head) could fix 
Thenceforward any object in its truth, 
Through eyeballs bathed by mere Castalian dew, 
Nor miss the borrowed medium, — vinous drop 
That colours all to the right crimson pitch 
When mirth grows mockery, censure takes the tinge 
Of malice ! 


All was Aristophanes : 
There blazed the glory, there shot black the shame ! 
Ay, Bacchos did stand forth, the Tragic God 
In person ! and when duly dragged through mire, — 
Having lied, filched, played fool, proved coward, flung 
The boys their dose of fit indecency. 
And finally got trounced to heart's content, 
At his own feast, in his own theatre 
( — Oh, never fear ! 'Twas consecrated sport, 
Exact tradition, warranted no whit 
Offensive to instmcted taste, — indeed, 
Essential to Athenai's liberty, 

Could the poor stranger understand !) why, then — 
He was pronounced the rarely-qualified 
To rate the work, adjust the claim to worth, 
Of Aischulos (of whom, in other mood, 
This same appreciative poet pleased 
To say " He's all one stiff and gluey piece 


Of back of swine's neck ! ") — and the Chatterbox 
Who, " twisting words like wool," usurped his seat 
In Plouton's realm : " the arch-rogue, liar, scamp 
That lives by snatching-up of altar-orts," 
— Who failed to recognize Euripides? 

Then came a contest for supremacy — 
Crammed full of genius, wit and fun and freak. 
No spice of undue spite to spoil the dish 
Of all sorts, — for the Mystics matched the Frogs 
In poetry, no Seiren sang so sweet ! — 
Till, pressed into the service (how dispense 
With Phaps-Elaphion and free foot-display?) 
The Muse of dead Euripides danced frank, 
Rattled her bits of tile, made all too plain 
How baby-work like " Herakles '"' had birth ! 
Last, Bacchos, — candidly disclaiming brains 
Able to follow finer argument, — 


Confessed himself much moved by three main facts : 

First, — if you stick a ' Lost his flask of oil ' 

At pause of period, you perplex the sense — 

^^'ere it the Elegy for Marathon ! 

Next, if you weigh two verses, ' car ' — the word, 

^^'ill outweigh ' club ' — the word, each word-packed line ! 

And — last, worst fact of all I in rivalry 

The younger poet dared to improvise 

Laudation less distinct of Triphales — 

(Nay, that served when ourself abused the youth !) 

Pheidippides — (nor that's appropriate now !) 

Then, — Alkibiades, our city's hope, 

Since times change and we Comics should change too ! 

These three main facts, well weighed, drew judgment 

Conclusively assigned the wretch his fate — 
" Fate due " admonished the sage Mystic choir, 
" To sitting, prate-apace, with Sokrates, 


Neglecting music and each tragic aid ! " 
— All ivound-iip by a wish "We soon may cease 
From certain griefs, and warfare, worst of them ! " 
— Since, deaf to Comedy's persistent voice, 
War still raged, still was like to rage. In vain 
Had Sparte cried once more " For granted Peace 
We give you Dekeleia back ! " Too shrewd 
Was Kleophon to let escape, forsooth, 
The enemy — at final gasp, besides ! 

So, Aristophanes obtained the prize, 

And so Athenai felt she had a friend 

Far better than her " best friend," lost last year ; 

And so, such fame had "Frogs" that, when came 

This i^resent year, those Frogs croaked gay again 
At the great Feast, Elaphebolion-month. 
Only — there happened Aigispotamoi ! 


And, in the midst of the frog-merriment, 
Plump o' the sudden, pounces stern King Stork 
On the light-liearted people of the marsh ! 
Spartan Lusandros swooped precipitate, 
Ended Athenai, rowed her sacred bay 
With oars Avhich brought a hundred triremes back 
Captive ! 

And first word of the conqueror 
Was " Down with those Long Walls, Peiraios' pride ! 
Destroy, yourselves, your bulwarks ! Peace needs none ! " 
And " We obey " they shuddered in their dream. 

P>ut, at next quick imposure of decree — • 
" No longer democratic government ! 
Henceforth such oligarchy as ourselves 
Please to appoint you ! '' — then the horror stung 
Dreamers awake ; they started up a-stare 


At the half-helot captain and his crew 
— Spartans, " men used to let their hair grow long, 
To fast, be dirty, and just — Socratize " — 
Whose word was " Trample on Themistokles ! " 

So, as the way is with much misery, 

The heads swam, hands refused their office, hearts 

Sunk as they stood in stupor. " Wreck the Walls ? 

Ruin Peiraios ? — with our Pallas armed 

For interference ? — Herakles apprised, 

And Theseus hasting ? Lay the Long Walls low ? " 

Three days they stood, stared, — stonier than their walls. 

Whereupon, sleep who might, Lusandros woke : 
Saw the prostration of his enemy, 
Utter and absolute beyond belief, 
Past hope of hatred even. I surmise 


He also probably saw fade in fume 

Certain fears, bred of Bakis-prophecy, 

Nor apprehended any more that gods 

And heroes, — fire, must glow forth, guard the ground 

Where prone, by sober day-dawn, corpse-like lay 

Powerless Athenai, late predominant 

Lady of Hellas, — Sparte's slave-prize now ! 

Where should a menace lurk in those slack limbs ? 

What was to move his circumspection ? Wh)- 

Demolish just Peiraios ? 

" Stay ! " bade he : 
" Already promise-breakers ? True to type, 
Athenians ! past, and present, and to come, — 
The fickle and the false ! No stone dislodged, 
No implement applied, yet three days' grace 
Expire ! Forbearance is no longer- lived. 
By breaking promise, terms of peace you break — 

A A 


Too gently framed for falsehood, fickleness ! 
All must be reconsidered — yours the fault ! " 

Wherewith, he called a council of allies. 
Pent-up resentment used its privilege, — 
Outburst at ending : this the summed result. 

" Because we would avenge no transient wrong 
But an eternity of insolence, 
Aggression, — folly, no disasters mend, 
Pride, no reverses teach humility, — 
Because too plainly were all punishment, 
Such as comports with less obdurate crime, 
Evadible by falsehood, fickleness — 
Experience proves the true Athenian type, — 
Therefore, 'tis need we dig deep down into 
The root of evil ; lop nor bole nor branch. 
Look up, look round and see, on every side, 


What nurtured the rank tree to noisome fruit I 
We who hve hutted (so they laugh) not housed, 
Build barns for temples, prize mud-monuments. 
Nor show the sneering stranger aught but — men, — 
Spartans take insult of Athenians just 
Because they boast Akropolis to mount. 
And Propulaia to make entry by. 
Through a mad maze of marble arrogance 
Such as you see — such as let none see more ! 
Abolish the detested luxury ! 
Leave not one stone upon another, raze 
Athenai to the rock ! Let hill and plain 
Become a waste, a grassy pasture-ground 
Where sheep may wander, grazing goats dei)end 
From sha])eless crags once columns ! so at last 
Shall peace inhabit there, and peace enough." 

Whereon, a shout approved " Such peace bestow ! " 
A A 2 


Then did a Man of Phokis rise — O heart ! 
Rise — when no bolt of Zeus disparted sky, 
No omen-bird from Pallas scared the crew, 
Rise — when mere human argument could stem 
No foam-fringe of the passion surging fierce, 
Baffle no wrath-wave that o'er barrier broke — 
Who was the Man of Phokis rose and flung 
A flower i' the way of that fierce foot's advance. 
Which — stop for? — nay, had stamped down sword's 

assault ! 
Could it be He stayed Sparte with the snatch 
" Daughter of Agamemnon, late my liege, 
Elektra, palaced once, a visitant 
To thy poor rustic dwelling, now I come ? '' 

Ay, facing fury of revenge, and lust 

Of hate, and malice moaning to appease 

Hunger on prey presumptuous, prostrate now — 


Full in the hideous flices— last resource, 
He flung that choric flower, my Euthukles ! 

And see, as through some pinhole, should the wind 

A\'edgingly pierce but once, in with a rush 

Hurries the whole wild weather, rends to rags 

The weak sail stretched against the outside storm — 

So did the power of that triumphant play 

Pour in, and oversweep the assembled foe ! 

Triumphant play, wherein our poet first 

Dared bring the grandeur of the Tragic Two 

Down to the level of our common life, 

Close to the beating of our common heart. 

Elektra ? 'Twas Athenai, Sparte's ice 

Thawed to, while that sad portraiture appealed— 

Agamemnonian lad}', lost by fault 

Of her own kindred, cast from house and home, 

Despoiled of all the brave inheritance. 


Dowered humbly as befits a herdsman's mate, 
Partaker of his cottage, clothed in rags, 
Patient performer of the poorest chares, 
Yet mindful, all the while, of glory past 
When she walked darling of Mukenai, dear 
Beyond Orestes to the King of Men ! 

So, because Greeks are Greeks, though Sparte's 

And hearts are hearts, though in Lusandros' breast, 
And poetry is power, and Euthukles 
Had faith therein to, full-face, fling the same — 
Sudden, the ice-thaw ! The assembled foe, 
Heaving and swaying with strange friendliness, 
Cried " Reverence Elektra ! " — cried " Abstain 
Like that chaste Herdsman, nor dare violate 
The sanctity of such reverse ! Let stand 
Athenai ! " 


Mindful of that story's close, 
Perchance, and how, — when he, the Herdsman chaste, 
Needs apprehend no break of tranquil sleep, — 
All in due time, a stranger, dark, disguised, 
Knocks at the door : with searching glance, notes keen. 
Knows quick, through mean attire and disrespect, 
The ravaged princess ! Ay, right on, the clutch 
Of guiding retribution has in charge 
The author of the outrage ! While one hand, 
Elektra's, pulls the door behind, made flist 
On fate, — the other strains, prepared to push 
The victim-queen, should she make frightened pause 
Before that serpentining blood which steals 
Out of the darkness where, a pace beyond. 
Above the slain Aigisthos, bides his blow 
Dreadful Orestes ! 

Klutaimnestra, wise 


This time, forbore ; Elektra held her own ; 
Saved was Athenai through Euripides, 
Through Euthukles, through — more than ever— me, 
Balaustion, me, who, Wild-pomegranate-flower, 
Felt my fruit triumph, and fade proudly so ! 

But next day, as ungracious minds are wont, 

The Spartan, late surprised into a grace, 

Grew sudden sober at the enormity. 

And grudged, by day-break, midnight's easy gift ; 

Splenetically must repay its cost 

By due increase of rigour, doglike snatch 

At aught still left dog to concede like man. 

Rough sea, at flow of tide, may lip, perchance. 

Smoothly the land-line reached as for repose — 

Lie indolent in all unquestioned sway ; 

But ebbing, when needs must, all thwart and loth, 

Sea claws at sand relinquished strugglingly. 


So, harsh Lusandros — pinioned to inflict 
The lesser penalty alone — spoke harsh, 
As minded to embitter scathe by scorn. 

" Athenai's self be saved then, thank the Lyre I 

if Tragedy withdraws her i)rescnce — quick, 

If Comedy replace her, — Avhat more just ? 

Let Comedy do service, frisk away. 

Dance off stage these indomitable stones, 

Long Walls, Peiraian bulwarks ! Hew and heave, 

Pick at, pound into dust each dear defence ! 

Not to the Kommos — deleldcu 

^^^ith breast bethumped, as Tragic lyre prefers. 

Put Comedy shall sound the flute, and crow 

At kordax-end — the hearty slapping-dance ! 

Collect those flute-girls — trash who flattered ear 

With whistlings, and fed eye with caper-cuts, 

While we Lakonians supped black broth or crunched 


Sea urchin, conchs and all, unpricked — coarse brutes ! 
Command they lead off step, time steady stroke 
To spade and pickaxe, till demolished lie 
Athenai's pride in powder ! " 

Done that day— 
That sixteenth famed day of Munuchion-month ! 
The day when Hellas fought at Salamis, 
The very day Euripides was born, 
Those flute-girls — Phaps-Elaphion at their head — 
Did blow their best, did dance their worst, the while 
Sparte pulled down the walls, wrecked wide the works. 
Laid low each merest molehill of defence. 
And so the Power, Athenai, passed away ! 

We would not see its passing ! Ere I knew 
The issue of their counsels, — crouching low 
And shrouded by my peplos,-^! conceived. 


Despite the shut eyes, the stopped ears, — by count 
Only of heart-beats, teUing the slow time, — 
Athenai's doom was signed and signified 
In that assembly, — ay, but knew there watched 
One who would dare and do, nor bate at all 
The stranger's licensed duty, — speak the word 
Allowed the Man from Phokis ! Nought remained 
But urge departure, flee the sights and sounds, 
Hideous exultings, wailings worth contempt, 
And press to other earth, new heaven, by sea 
That somehow ever prompts to 'scape despair. 
Help rose to heart's wish ; at the harbour-side. 
The old grey mariner did reverence 
To who had saved his ship, still weather-tight 
As when with prow gay -garlanded she praised 
The hospitable port and pushed to sea. 
" Convoy Balaustion back to Rhodes, for sake 
Of her and her Euripides ! " laughed he. 


Rhodes, — shall it not be there, my Euthukles, 

Till this brief trouble of a life-time end, 

That solitude — two make so populous ! — 

For food finds memories of the past suffice, 

May be, anticipations, — hope so swells, — 

Of some great future we, familiar once 

With who so taught, should hail and entertain ? 

He lies now in the little valley, laughed 

And moaned about by diose mysterious streams, 

Boiling and freezing, like the love and hate 

AVhich helped or harmed him through his earthly course. 

They mix in Arethousa by his grave. 

The warm spring, traveller, dip thine arms into. 

Brighten thy brow with ! Life detests black cold ! 

I sent the tablets, the psalterion, so 
Rewarded Sicily ; the tyrant there 
Bestowed them worthily in Phoibos' shrine. 


A gold-graved writing tells — " I also loved 
The poet, Free Athenai cheaply prized — 
King Dionusios, — Arclielaos-likc I" 

And see if young Philemon, — sure one day 

To do good service and be loved himself, — 

I f he too have not made a votive verse ! 

" Grant, in good sooth, our great dead, all the same, 

Retain their sense, as certain wise men say, 

I'd hang myself — to see Euripides ! " 

Hands off, Philemon ! nowise hang thyself, 

But pen the prime plays, labour the right life, 

And die at good old age as grand men use, — 

Keeping thee, with that great thought, warm the while, — 

That he does live, Philemon ! Ay, most sure ! 

" He lives ! " hark, — waves say, winds sing out the same. 

And yonder dares the citied ridge of Rhodes 

Its headlong plunge from sky to sea, disparts 


North bay from south, — each guarded calm, that guest 

May enter gladly, blow what wind there will, — 

Boiled round with breakers, to no other cry ! 

All in one choros, — what the master-word 

They take up? — hark ! " There are no gods, no gods ! 

Glory to God — who saves Euripides ! " 





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